11-14 year olds

This age group are likely to be completely independent in their internet and technology use and may use social media, games, watch online videos and communicate with friends on a daily basis. They will likely be using technology without adult supervision for the majority of their time online, and will often have their own device, or for some children, more than one (e.g. a phone, a laptop, a games console.)

  • Desire to 'fit in' Open or Close

    At this stage in a child’s life, they are often exploring how they ‘fit in’ and are developing their sense of self. They may be feeling pressure to look or act a certain way, in order to feel accepted. This pressure can also come from their online experiences, for example, pressure to post images of themselves they feel look attractive or ‘cool,’ pressure to receive a large number of likes on their images, or have a high number of online friends or followers. 

  • Developmental factors Open or Close

    As they transition from childhood to adulthood, developmental factors can bring a tendency to seek new sensations, take risks and explore their emerging sexuality, while their vulnerability to peer pressure and possible lack of understanding of sex and relationship can place them at greater risk of engaging in sexting. They may also feel that the online world allows them to explore their sexuality in ways they may not feel comfortable with in the offline world.

When it comes to supporting young people aged 11-14 with the pressure to take or send nude images, we need to help them develop a strong sense of self-esteem and respect for others, to empower them to recognise peer pressure or unhealthy relationships and to build strategies to be able to make sensible choices online.

5 top tips for supporting children aged 11-14 online:

  1. Discuss the pressures: The creation of nude or partially nude content can be due to pressure from a partner or peer. Young people may also feel a pressure to request nude images, or send on other people’s, in order to feel accepted, or part of a particular friendship group. Discussing peer pressure, healthy relationships and self-esteem with your child is a positive way to help them recognise unhealthy relationships or friendships and seek further support if they need to. Resisting pressure from others to engage in activities they are uncomfortable with, or know to be against the law can be a challenge, but one that can be overcome with the knowledge they have the support of parents/carers.
  2. Discuss the potential consequences: Sharing intimate images online can pose a high risk to all involved. Taking, sharing and having possession of nude and sexually explicit images of under 18s is illegal. Even if a young person chooses to take this of themselves. It is important to know the police take a common sense approach, and do not want to unnecessarily criminalise young people for this behaviour. However, if the sharing is done with malicious intent, or is a repeat occurrence, they may take more serious action. Aside from the law, there can also be other consequences . For young people who have their nude image ‘leaked’, it can be particularly hurtful and painful to recover from, and have a negative impact on their mental health, self-esteem and relationships.
  3. Discuss consent and respect online: To share any content belonging to another person without asking them first can damage relationships and hurt people's feelings. This is especially true for nude and nearly nude images. Talk to your child about online etiquette, and the different types of things that permission is needed for. If young people are ever unsure whether they have someone's consent or not, the crucial thing to remember is to ask.
  4. 'Think before you post': Talking to your child about online privacy, and sharing content, is absolutely vital. Once any image has been shared, it can be difficult to remain in control of it. Even if you think you can trust the person that you've sent it to, it could be shared with others or posted elsewhere online.
  5. Discuss who can they talk to: If you and your child can have an ongoing open dialogue about their life online, whilst still allowing them the level of privacy with which you are comfortable, they will be more likely to seek advice from you if they find themselves in a difficult situation. Reassure them it is never too late to seek help, regardless of what they might have done, or how long it's been going on for. It's important that young people know where else they can turn to for support, whether this is a trusted teacher or school or by contacting a helpline. Visit our 'Need help?' page for young people for further advice, support and relevant helplines.

Conversation starter ideas:

A simple and effective way to get involved in your child’s online life is through discussion - an open dialogue is the best way to help your child access the amazing resources the internet has to offer whilst keeping them safe online. Here are some conversation starters to help you:

  1. How much do you think young people are influenced by the types of images they see vloggers/influencers/celebrities posting online?
  2. How do you use technology to stay in touch with friends?
  3. What sorts of things do you like to share with each other?
  4. What could you do if you thought someone was being pressured to share images they were uncomfortable with?
  5. How could you resist the pressure to share a nude image and say 'no'?
  6. What could you do to help someone who had a nude photo of themselves shared online?
  7. Who can you go to if you are worried about something online?
  8. When might someone need to go to an adult for help?

 

Online Safety resources for 11-14s:

Why not visit our sexting hot topic for young people to get advice tailored to 11-14s. 

A practical help guide created by The UK Safer Internet Centre for young people to support them if an image has already been shared online.