Online safety - information for children

Keeping in touch with your mates through Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook is great fun but there are some things you should think about.

  • be careful what you share
  • think before you post
  • check your privacy settings regularly
  • use complex passwords and keep them private
  • cover your webcam
  • tell an adult you trust if someone makes you feel uncomfortable or worried or if you think you're being bullied online.

Sexting

There are many reasons why a young person may want to send a naked or semi-naked picture, video or message to someone else.

  • joining in because they think that 'everyone is doing it'
  • boosting their self-esteem
  • flirting with others and testing their sexual identity
  • exploring their sexual feelings
  • to get attention and connect with new people on social media
  • they may find it difficult to say no if somebody asks them for an explicit image, especially if the person asking is persistent

Sexting can be seen as harmless, but creating or sharing explicit images of a child is illegal, even if the person doing it is a child. A young person is breaking the law if they:

  • take an explicit photo or video of themselves or a friend
  • share an explicit image or video of a child, even if it's shared between children of the same age
  • possess, download or store an explicit image or video of a child, even if the child gave their permission for it to be created.

However, as of January 2016 in England and Wales, if a young person is found creating or sharing images, the police can choose to record that a crime has been committed but that taking formal action isn't in the public interest.

Crimes recorded this way are unlikely to appear on future records or checks, unless the young person has been involved in other similar activities which may indicate that they're a risk.

Find out more about legislation, policy and practice from the NSPCC.