What Online Risks Can Young People Face?


Children may be at risk because of their own behaviour, for example, by sharing too much

• Children need to be aware of the impact that their online activity can have on both themselves
and other people, and the digital footprint that they create on the internet. Young people
may share too much and take risks such as chatting to strangers or sharing sexual images. It’s
easy to feel anonymous online and it’s important that children are aware of who is able to
view, and potentially share, the information that they may have posted. When using the
internet, it’s important to keep personal information safe and not share it with strangers.
Discuss the importance of reporting inappropriate conversations, messages, images and
behaviours and how this can be done.


Age-inappropriate or unreliable content can be available to children

• Online content can be viewed via a range of devices, including laptops, smartphones,
tablets and games consoles. Some online content is not suitable for children and may
be hurtful or harmful. For example, content that is pornographic, violent, extremist or
promotes suicide or anorexia. It’s important for children to consider the reliability of
online material and be aware that information might not be true or may be written
with a bias. Children may need your help as they begin to assess content in this way.
There can be legal consequences for using or downloading copyrighted content,
without seeking the author’s permission.


Children can be contacted by bullies or people who groom or seek to abuse them

• It is important for children to realize that new friends made online may not be who they say they
are and that once a friend is added to an online account, you may be sharing your personal
information with them. Regularly reviewing friends lists and removing unwanted contacts is a useful
step. Privacy settings online may also allow you to customize the information that each friend is
able to access. If you have concerns that your child is, or has been, the subject of inappropriate
sexual contact or approached by another person, it’s vital that you report it to the police. If your
child is the victim of cyberbullying, this can also be reported online and offline. Reinforce the
importance of telling a trusted adult straight away if someone is bullying them or making them feel
uncomfortable, or if one of their friends is being bullied online.


Young people can be unaware of hidden costs and advertising

• Young people’s privacy and enjoyment online can sometimes be affected by
advertising and marketing schemes. Young people can also be unaware of
hidden costs in games and apps. Encourage your children to keep their
personal information private, learn how to block both pop ups and spam
emails, turn off in-app purchasing on devices where possible and use a
family email address when filling in online forms.


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