Online Safety

In this section, find useful information about staying safe online. We also have a comprehensive app and game database and tech glossary.

11/12/2019: YouTube bans ‘malicious insults and veiled threats’

YouTube will no longer allow videos that “maliciously insult someone” based on “protected attributes” such as race, gender identity or sexuality. The video-sharing platform will also ban “implied threats of violence” as part of its new harassment policy. A row erupted in June after a prominent video-maker said he had been the target of abuse by another YouTube star.

10/12/2019: Members of child abuse WhatsApp group arrested in 11 countries

Spanish police say 33 people have been arrested globally in connection with a WhatsApp group for images of child sex abuse and other violent content. The many “extreme” images shared in the group had been “normalised by most of its members”, the force said. Arrests were made in 11 different countries across three continents, but the majority – 17 – were in Spain.

10/12/2019: Shops urged to take smart toys off shelves over security concerns

Children are at risk of being contacted by strangers and seeing offensive images through their must-have smart toys, an investigation has found. Consumer group Which? found security flaws in toys including walkie talkies, karaoke machines and robots which could leave them open to being hacked, hijacked by other users or lack online filters.

05/12/2019: This is why we launched Report Harmful Content

Report Harmful Content (RHC) is the UK’s national reporting centre for harmful online content. As part of our work as a partner in UK Safer Internet Centre, we have been trialling, testing, and fine-tuning the service since January 2019 and, as of December 2019, the service is now officially launched and fully-functional!

South West Grid for Learning
29/11/2019: Smartphone ‘addiction’: Young people ‘panicky’ when denied mobiles

Almost a quarter of young people are so dependent on their smartphones that it becomes like an addiction, suggests research by psychiatrists. The study, from King’s College London, says such addictive behaviour means that people become “panicky” or “upset” if they are denied constant access. The youngsters also cannot control the amount of time they spend on the phone.

29/11/2019: One in four children ‘have problematic smartphone use’

One in four children and young people could have problematic smartphone use, according to research that also suggests such behaviour is associated with poorer mental health. The amount of time children and teens spend using their devices has become an issue of growing concern, but experts say there is still little evidence as to whether spending time on screens is harmful in itself.

29/11/2019: Thousands of images and videos of child sexual abuse could be going undetected because of ‘false reports’

Thousands of images and videos of child sexual abuse could be going undetected because internet analysts’ time is being taken up dealing with “false reports”, experts warn. The Internet Watch Foundation, the UK charity which finds and removes online child sexual abuse material, acts on anonymous reports from the public to find and eradicate criminal content. But they say thousands of inappropriate or false reports of non-criminal material are wasting their analysts’ time and potentially stopping them finding and eliminating real abuse imagery from the internet.

Internet Watch Foundation
21/11/2019: Increased measures to protect vulnerable children online welcomed by the IWF

Increased measures to protect vulnerable children online have been welcomed by the IWF as MEPs hear more must be done to protect “vulnerable children”. Speaking during a high-level conference at the European Parliament on child rights on November 20 to mark the 30th Anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Vera Jourova, European Commissioner for Justice, said a new European Commission will begin on December 1. She said there would be an increased focus on “enforcing” children’s rights, including measures to help protect them online.

Internet Watch Foundation
20/11/2019: IWF warns possessing indecent images of children is ‘always a crime’ after senior Police officer is convicted

People are being warned to report child sexual abuse directly to the IWF after a senior Metropolitan Police officer was convicted of possessing an indecent image of a child. The Internet Watch Foundation, a charity which works to remove online child sexual abuse, is calling for people to report videos and images anonymously and safely to their hotline, warning that possessing indecent images of children, no matter what the intention, is a crime.

Internet Watch Foundation
14/11/2019: Teen Instagrammers open up on mental health chat

Two teenagers have set up an online initiative hoping to persuade more young people to talk openly about mental health. Harry Johnson, 19, from Stoke-on-Trent, and Samuel Starmer, 17, from Congleton, run The Compassion Initiative via social media platforms. Harry, who presents the videos, said setting up the programme had helped to save his life.


FILTER: App/Game (On page)


Teen chat room website, aimed specicially at teenagers.





An anonymous message board and content hosting platform. Often associated with “Trolling”.

Content sharing

Mac, Windows



Agent Chat and video calls is like most other instant messaging sites and allows the user to send messages, pictures and documents to contacts. A recent report in Cheshire highlights this site being used for uploading videos of sexual acts being performed by what appear to be minors. Also messages were being exchanged in relation to possible availability of underage females.




Bad language, Sexual

AirDrop – Wifi File Transfer

Popular file sharing app that lets users transfer files to different devices via wi-fi. Is available on Andriod and Apple products. Has been seen recently in incidents whereby teens have used it to securely send self-generated indecent images to each other.

Content sharing





AMINO – COMMUNITIES, CHAT, FORUMS, AND GROUPS is an app that lets users access and contribute to communities about a range of subjects, including bands, books, genres, and activities. … When you tap a community, you can view its description, community guidelines, and the number of registered users in that group. There are risks as there is a chat facility and obviously would be an ideal platform for grooming to take place.

Further information:


Android, IOS (Apple)


Bad language, Sexual

Animal Jam

Online children’s game that has over 70 million registered players. Animal Jam takes place in a fictional area known as Jamaa, containing various biomes and cartoon player-created animals. Players can create an animal with an anonymous 3-part name, such as “Crashing Magicshark”, dress it up with virtual clothing, and control it in the gameplay environment. The game also contains a private chat area where players can communicate with one another.

Further information:


Online (Web based)


Bad language, Bullying, Sexual

Ask.FM is a Q&A-based site (and app) that lets users take questions from their followers, and then answer them one at a time, any time they want. In any case, it gives youngsters another reason to talk about themselves other than in the comment section of their own selfies. Although may not be as huge as Instagram or Snapchat, it’s a big one to watch, for sure. With such a big interest from youngsters, it absolutely has the potential to become the go-to place for Q&A content.

Further information:


Android, IOS (Apple), Mac


Bad language, Bullying, Sexual


Badoo is a dating-focused social networking service, founded in 2006 and headquarters in Soho, London. Like many other social network sites, you have several options to filter through interests and types to find someone to befriend, date or chat with on Badoo. The advanced filter allows you to pick a range of ages and distances from where you live. Badoo performs well at finding people for you to connect with locally. On the advanced filter, you can look for more specific traits like body type, kids, education and star sign.


Mac, Windows



A messaging system connecting users of World of Warcraft and other content created by Blizzard. Users details are tied to their own individual account which is also used to log into these games.

Further information:


Mac, Windows



BlackBerry’s BBM is an instant messaging app. You have your own unique 4 digit PIN and other people can only add you as a contact using this. As well as instant messaging, you can have group chats, voice calls and share voice notes and pictures.


Android, IOS (Apple)

When a bully uses the internet as a tool to abuse someone, this is known as cyber bullying or online bullying.

As a parent, guardian or carer it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand internet technology, you can still help your child if they are being bullied online.

There are lots of places where you can find information online about cyber bullying including the NSPCC website.

Save the evidence

Save the bullying if possible for evidence. This could include saving text messages or keeping a record of what’s been happening online. If the bullying is happening online but you can’t save it due to the system that’s been used you can use something called ‘print screen’ or ‘screen capture’ to copy information into a document and save that separately as evidence. If you’re not sure how to do this you can search for instructions online.

Use Reporting Facilities

Many social networks allow users to ‘report abuse’ and ‘block’ users. As a parent, guardian or carer you may want to encourage your child to find out (if they don’t already know) how they can report someone online so that they feel confident to do it if they need to. It’s also important for children to understand the need to report people for cyber bullying before they ‘block them’ so that action can be taken.

Get your school involved

If you think your child is being bullied online by someone from their school contact the school. Individual schools will have their own policies on bullying / cyber bullying. Whatever the policy if your child is being bullied by someone from their school or someone they don’t know, they may need support of some kind during school hours.

If the bully is from your child’s school that may need some support too so by making a report, you can help. Although each case is different, generally schools should make it very clear what their approach is to bullying (including online bullying).

Blame the Bully, not the technology

Bullies cause cyber bullying and the internet and technology are tools that they use to help make that happen. Taking away your child’s access to the internet won’t necessarily solve the problem. That said, your child may wish to stop using social networks or other things for a while and all of that will need to be talked about and agreed by you and your child together.

Consider if and how you will respond to the bully

Bullies want a reaction of any kind so we suggest to children and young people that they don’t respond at all to online bullies but to report them and block them instead, and to talk to someone they can trust about it. You may want to respond to the bully. If that’s the case, do this when you have had time to consider what your want to say calmly and carefully.
You may want to explain to the bully that you’re now aware of what’s been going on, have saved the evidence of the bullying and have/or are going to report them to the website or social network they have been using, their school (if they are a child and you know them), their parents (if you know them) or the police if you think what’s happening is serious enough.

Keep talking

Any form of bullying can make a child feel alone. Cyber bullying can happen day and night, on school days and weekends. This can be not only upsetting but really tiring. Keep talking with your child to reassure them and let them know that they are not to blame.

When to contact the police

If you think that the level of bullying is serious and that your child is at risk of harm telephone Devon and Cornwall Police on 101 and ask to speak with your local Police Community Support Officer or Youth Intervention Officer. In an emergency always telephone 999.
Like the offline environment there are laws in the UK that apply online. Although each case is different, cyber bullies shouldn’t be surprised to receive a visit from the police if what they have been doing has resulted in a criminal offence. You can find out more about the law at GOV.UK.

Many gaming devices now mean that children and young people can play online against people they know and people they don’t know (which can include adults). As well as just playing games together people can also interact in other ways.

It’s important to make sure that games are suitable for their age and that children understand how they can stay safer.

Online gaming things to think about

  • Does my child’s gaming device have parental controls that I can use?
  • Who is my child interacting with? Are they adults or children?
  • If my child is playing games online with strangers, what types of things can we both do to help make that experience safer?
  • What type of language are people using in the games and is it appropriate for my child?
  • Does my child understand the risks of sharing personal information (e.g. name, email address, phone number) when gaming?
  • Does my child know what to do if they are being bullied by another player?
  • Does my child know what to do if another player does something to make them feel uncomfortable or frightened?
  • What type of content is my child viewing?

Online gaming things to talk about

If you don’t play online games you might not be sure how to talk about gaming with your child but there are some things you can ask them like:

  • What type of games do you like most? (for example Action, Fantasy, Adventure, Fighting, Racing etc).
  • Can you choose the type of character you play in the game?
  • What are the characters like?
  • What types of things can you do in the game?
  • What types of people can you meet in the game?
  • What types of things do people like to talk about?
  • If someone is being a bully or making you feel uncomfortable, how can you report them in the game?
  • Can I have a game with you? (Having a go on the game is a pretty good way to learn, you might have fun but you should probably expect to lose!).


The following links provide safety support and guidance for their respective consoles and devices.

How old?

The PEGI system gives age ratings to products to help adults decide if a game is suitable for their child. As well as age ratings, products feature ‘descriptors’ which show why a product has received a certain age rating. For example this might be because it contains violence (including sexual violence), discrimination, depictions of alcohol and drugs, or bad language.

Parental controls are tools that can be used to filter, control and monitor internet activity. Parental controls are one tool that can be used and having them doesn’t mean that regular chats around online activity shouldn’t take place.

Parental controls won’t protect children from issues like cyber bullying, losing control over pictures/videos that they’ve shared or getting a bad online reputation.

Parental controls can be put on televisions, computers, gaming devices and mobile devices like tablets and phones. If you’re not sure how to use (or if you even have) parental controls, contact your service provider and ask them. Not all parental controls are free of charge so you may want to check that out.

Activating parental controls

Internet has produced guides to setting up parental controls across a number of platforms. You can find out more by clicking the image.

We’ve been surfing the web to look at a number of websites for companies that provide internet services and find their ‘parental control’ pages. If you’re with one of the following service providers, please visit their website to find out what service is available to you.

Please note that this list doesn’t include all providers.

Sexting is the word used to describe the sharing of personal sexual content electronically. The word is a combination of ‘sex’ and ‘texting’.

Why do people sext?

Sexting is usually deliberate (i.e. people choose to do it) and is often when someone takes an intimate or sexually explicit image of themselves and sends it to another person (for example a boyfriend or girlfriend). Although it’s completely natural for young people to want to explore their own sexual identity and their relationships, sexting can be really risky and have very serious consequences.

Sexting and the law

If anyone under the age of 18 is sexting (i.e. sending indecent images of themselves), they’re also breaking the law. You can find out more about sexting and the law on the Think You Know website but in brief it’s a criminal offence to:

  • TAKE an indecent image of someone under the age of 18 (which includes someone taking an image of themselves).
  • MAKE an indecent image of someone under 18 (i.e. copy it or save it to another device).
  • SEND an indecent image of someone 18 to another person.
  • ASK someone under 18 to take an indecent image of themselves.
  • HAVE an indecent image of someone under 18.

As a parent a good thing to remember about the law is that it is there to protect young people from harm and from being exploited and it’s not designed to punish them for making genuine mistakes.That said, every case is different and is always dealt with based on the circumstances and facts involved.

More information about sexting

The Childline website has some great information for children and young people about sexting but it’s a good read for parents too.There are a number of resources for children and parents on sexting and we would always recommend that people search online and speak with others to find good quality information themselves. We think that these resources are also really helpful:

Talking with your child about sexting

Talking about sex isn’t always easy. Like lots of things though it’s better to talk about a subject beforeanything happens.Many children and young people don’t fully understand the laws about sexting or some of the consequences.One way to have the conversation at home is to watch and then talk about Exposed (short film) by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre.


Peer pressure can be powerful stuff so Childnet has also created the Zipit App to help children and young people keep flirty chat on the right track.

Online sexual chat

If someone is making your child feel uncomfortable about sex you can report them to CEOP. This might be someone:

  • chatting online with your child about sex
  • asking your child to do sexual things on a webcam
  • asking your child to send sexual images of themselves
  • trying to get your child to meet up with them offline

If this is happening make a report to CEOP. You can also contact Devon and Cornwall Police on telephone 101 (non emergency calls) or 999 (emergency calls only).

What is CEOP?

CEOP is the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Team within the National Crime Agency. They exist to help children and young people who are being approached online about sex or being sexually abused.

Sextortion is a form of revenge porn that employs non-physical forms of coercion to extort sexual favours from the victim.

What to do if you’re a victim of sextortion

If someone threatens to share explicit images of you unless you pay them money:

  1. Dont panic. Contact your local police and internet service provider immedaitely. The police will take your case seriously, will deal with it in confidence and will not judge you for being in this situation.
  2. Don’t communicate further with the criminals. Take screen shots of all your communication. Suspend your Facebook account (but don’t delete it) and use the online reporting process to report the matter to Skype, YouTube etc. to have any video blocked and to set up an alert in case the video resurfaces. Deactivating the Facebook account temporarily rather than shutting it down will mean the data are preserved and will help police to collect evidence. The account can also be reactivated at any time so your online memories are not lost forever. Also, keep an eye on all the accounts which you might have linked in case the criminals try to contact you via one of those.
  3. Don’t pay. Many victims who have paid have continued to get more demands for higher amounts of money. In some cases, even when the demands have been met the offenders will still go on to post the explicit videos. If you have already paid, check to see if the money has been collected. If it has, and if you are able, then make a note of where it was collected from. If it hasn’t, then you can cancel the payment – and the sooner you do that the better.
  4. Preserve evidence. Make a note of all details provided by the offenders, for example; the Skype name (particularly the Skype ID), the Facebook URL; the Western Union or MoneyGram Money Transfer Control Number (MTCN); any photos/videos that were sent, etc. Be aware that the scammer’s Skype name is different to their Skype ID, and it’s the ID details that police will need. To get that, right click on their profile, select ‘View Profile’ and then look for the name shown in blue rather than the one above it in black. It’ll be next to the word ’Skype’ and will have no spaces in it. DO NOT DELETE ANY CORRESPONDENCE.

You can also get help from:

Social networks are ways of bringing people together using technology to informally  communicate . There are loads of social networks out there and you should be a certain age to use some of them.

Lots of social networks have privacy settings which are tools that you can use to help control who sees the information that you share online. Most social networks also have ‘report abuse’ and ‘block’ tools to help you take control of how others behave towards you.

Any information you share online like photos, videos or comments can stay online for a very long time. When you share something online other people can copy it which means that they then have control of it. This means that even if you delete something you’ve shared, someone else might have it.

Reporting and blocking

If you’re using social networks find out how you can report and block people. If someone is doing or saying something that you don’t like or if they’re making you feel scared or uncomfortable, it’s up to you what you do depending on how you feel, but you can report them online, save the evidence, block them and tell an adult you trust.

Remember that you can choose your online and offline friends. If you don’t want to be friends with someone online anymore, remove them from your social networks.

Online friends

Offline the world is filled with a whole range of people some of them nice, some of them mean, some of them just plain dangerous. Online it’s just the same so it’s smart to be careful when choosing your online friends.

Keeping secrets can be fun but some secrets can be dangerous. If a stranger or a friend you have only met online asks you to keep a secret then you need to tell an adult you trust straight away because they might not be who they say they are. People who respect you will never ask you to keep secrets from other people who are close to you like your friends and family.

Sharing information

Technology means that the things we share online can be seen by lots of people. Information can also be shared really quickly. It’s always smart to think before you post. Ask yourself what could happen if other people like your family or your teachers saw what you were sharing online.

Staying safer in social networks

  • Use privacy settings – they’re there to protect you not restrict you. A guide to setting your privacy settings has been published by ParentInfo
  • Some websites ask you to use your real name but you may be able to choose a username too. Use a nickname if you can.
  • Avoid using a picture of yourself for your profile – use a picture of something you like instead.
  • Don’t include personal details in your profile, like your phone number, your email address or home address.
  • Read the small print. For lots of social networks you have to sign up certain things, and some of those things could include rights to share what you’re posting online. Know what you’re signing up for.
  • Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know offline. If you are going to accept them, be very careful about what information you share with them.
  • Find out how you can report people on the websites you’re using.
  • Block someone if they are being mean or sending you things you don’t like.
  • Only ever speak with someone on a webcam if you know and trust them offline.
  • Remember that what someone does on a webcam can be recorded.
  • Say no to things you don’t want to do. If you don’t want to go on a webcam you don’t have to. If someone is cool they’ll respect that.
  • Listen to yourself. If a person or situation online doesn’t feel right trust your instincts and speak to someone offline who you trust for advice and help.

To find out more about staying safe in social networks check out Think You Know and Childline.

Click on the following logos to access the safety/support areas for each social network.


General things to think about for you and your family

Use the tools available to keep your family and your devices safer

  • Set up parental controls. Some systems have them built in and are free, others you can pay for. You may want to look at several options and decide what’s best for your family.
  • Keep your technology (including phones) up to date with security software.
  • Use strong passwords that include letters, numbers and symbols and use different passwords for different accounts.
  • If you’re using social networks, check out the privacy settings and make sure they are activated.
  • Report online abuse.

Be careful of what you share online

  • Read the terms and conditions for social networks. There might be a lot there to read but you could be agreeing to hand over control of your online content if you don’t.
  • Never share personal information like phone numbers or email addresses online.
  • Be cautious about the type of information you might be sharing with people you only know online.
  • Be careful about the types of images you post and share as once they are out there you’ve pretty much lost control of that content.
  • Use webcams carefully. If you’re talking with people you know and trust offline you may be confident, but remember that webcam ‘conversations’ can always be recorded.

Create a great online reputation

Our children learn things from us so how we as adults behave online affects how our children behave. In terms of your own online reputation, nearly all of the advice for children is relevant for adults.

  • Search for yourself and members of your family online. This will help you manage what information is available about you in the public domain.
  • Treat others online as you would like to be treated.
  • Delete old accounts that you’re no longer using.
  • Be careful what you share.
  • Know who you’re sharing information with.
  • Understand that whatever you share online you might lose control of.
  • Always report abuse.

General family online safety advice

For general online safety advice we recommend a trip to Get Safe Online.



143I love you
182I hate you
4EAEFor ever and ever
ADNAny day now
AFAIKAs far as I know
AFKAway from keyboard
ATMAt the moment
BFNBye for now
BOLBe on later
BRBBe right back
BTWBy the way
CD9Code 9 (means parents are around)
CTNCan’t talk now
DWBHDon’t worry, be happy
F2FFace to face
FTFFace to face
FWBFriends with benefits
FYEOFor your eyes only
GALGet a life
GLHFGood luck, have fun
GTGGot to go
GYPOGet your pants off
HAKHugs and kisses
HANDHave a nice day
HTHHope this helps
HTHHappy to help
IDKI don’t know
IIRCIf I remember correctly
IKRI know, right?
ILUI love you
ILUI Love You
ILYI love you
IMInstant message
IMHOIn my honest opinion
IMHOIn my humble opinion
IMOIn my opinion
IRLIn real life
IU2UIt’s up to you
IWSNI want sex now
IYKWIMIf you know what I mean
J/KJust kidding
J4FJust for fun
JICJust in case
JSYKJust so you know
KFYKiss for you
KOTLKiss On The Lips
KPCKeeping parents clueless
LMAOLaugh my ass off
LMBOLaughing my butt off
LMIRLLet’s meet in real life
LMIRLLet’s Meet In Real Life
LMKLet me know
LOLLaugh out loud
MIRLMeet in real life
MOSMum over shoulder
NAGINot a good idea
NIFOCNude in front of computer
NIFOCNude In Front Of The Computer
NMNever mind
NMUNot much, you?
NPNo problem
NTSNote to self
OICOh I see
OMGOh my God
ORLYOh, really?
OTOff topic
OTPOn the phone
P911Parent alert
P999Parent Alert
PALParents Are Listening or Peace And Love
PAWParents are watching
PCMPlease call me
PIRParent in room
PLZPlease call me
POSParents over shoulder
PTBPlease text back
QQCrying (produces an emoticon in text; often used sarcastically)
RAKRandom act of kindness
RLReal life
ROFLRolling on the floor laughing
RU/18Are You Over 18?
RUOKAre you okay?
SadfishingUsed to describe someone’s attempt to attract attention, sympathy or hook an audience through posting online about an emotional problem.
SMHShaking my head
SOSSomeone over shoulder
SSDDSame s**t, different day
SWAKSealed with a kiss
SWYPSo, what’s your problem?
SYSSee you soon
TBCTo be continued
TDTMTalk dirty to me
TIMETears in my eyes
TMIToo much information
TTYLTalk to you later
TUThank you
TYThank you
VSFVery sad face
WBWelcome back
WTHWhat the heck?
WTHWhat the hell?
WTPAWhere the party at?
WYCMWill you call me?
WYCMWill you call me?
WYRNWhat’s Your Real Name?
YGMYou’ve got mail
YOLOYou only live once
YWYou’re welcome
ZOMGOh my God (sarcastic)