14-18 year olds

At this age young people may feel like they don’t need support from adults when it comes to their online lives. However, it is still important that they have access to help and support and that as adults, we remain non-judgemental about their online lives.

Communicating with others online is a very normal and accepted part of adult life and as young people get older they too will be engaging in this. Discussions about appropriate boundaries online, reporting routes and other avenues for support are all still vital in keeping 14-18s safe online.

What are the signs of inappropriate contact from others online?

Not all inappropriate contact is the same and groomers are unfortunately very skilled at what they do. However, the following signs are things which you may want to talk to a trusted adult about, report or block further contact.

Someone suggesting or pressuring a child to:

  • meet up offline
  • share personal information about themslves or others
  • send images and videos of themselves
  • share sexual messages, images or videos
  • keep contact private or to keep secrets
  • not talk to friends or family
  • always be available and reply straight away to messages.

5 top tips for supporting children aged 14-18:

  1. Take a non-judgemental approach – it’s important to remember that young people will live their lives differently online and the digital world is an important part of their lives. However, worrying about how a parent or carer will react can prevent young people from asking for help if something does go wrong. Make sure that your child knows that no matter what has happened, you are there to help them. 
  2. Keep talking ‘little and often’ – having a ‘big chat’ with young people about their lives online can be challenging and can promote and ‘them and us’ mentality. Young people will often be the experts in how tech works, but parents and carers may know more about staying safe. By working together and respecting each other you can provide support and help where and when it is needed.
  3. Talk about healthy online relationships – discussing healthy boundaries, respect and consent in the context of online experiences is really important. This will help young people to recognise when an ‘online friend’ is putting pressure on them or may not have their best interests at heart.
  4. Find out where the report and block buttons are – social media, apps, games and sites all offer reporting and blocking tools. You can find out more by visiting the UK Safer Internet Centre Safety Guides. You can also report grooming to CEOP.
  5. Know where to get more support – you can find out more about where to get support by visiting our pages for parents and carers and young people.

Conversation starter ideas:

Use these questions to form an informal discussion where you too offer an opinion. You don’t need to have all the answers and sometimes it can help discussions with young people if you are open to learning from them. This can help young people to feel less like they are being quizzed or it is assumed that they don’t know anything about keeping themselves safe online.

  1. What is the difference between only knowing someone online and knowing them offline as well?
  2. How do we know that we can trust someone? Is it different online and offline?
  3. Is it ok for someone you only know online to do any of the following?

Suggesting to meet up offline, asking for personal information (phone numbers, address, school etc) or for them to send photos or videos, to move chats to private messages or asking them to keep a secret.  

  1. Not all messages from someone new online are worrying, but how do you know which ones might be?  
  2. How would someone know they are being pressured online? What could they do if they thought they were? How could you help if you were worried about a friend being pressured online?
  3. Do you know where the report and block buttons are on different apps?
  4. Do you know where to make a report if someone is pressuring you to do anything in question 3?
  5. Who can you come to for help if something worries or upsets you online? (include home, school and helplines)