Your child probably spends loads of time online - chatting to friends, sharing information, watching videos or playing games.
It can be hard to keep track of what they are up to. But it's important you help them to stay safe.
Talk to your children openly about what is safe and what is not and it's a good idea to keep all devices in busy parts of the house where you can keep an eye on what they are doing.
You can set privacy settings on all your devices which is a great way of preventing your child from seeing inappropriate content.
Using parental controls also limits how long they can be online, the times that they can be online, filter and block content and stop pop-ups. If you are worried your child is being groomed or sexual exploited online contact the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).
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.
The NSPCC has advice on how to talk to children about the risks of sexting - and what you can do to protect them.
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 on child abuse images.
Section 67 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 inserts a new offence into the Sexual Offences Act 2003, at section 15A, criminalising sexual communication with a child. The offence carries a maximum 2 year prison sentence. This came into effect on 3 April 2017 and will not be retrospective, and will apply in England and Wales
Derbyshire Police and the College of Policing
Download the briefing note on police action in response to youth produced sexual imagery ('Sexting'). This contains a useful understanding of how the police will respond when a report is made to them.
The Sexual Offences Act 2003, includes the offence of sexual grooming. But action can only be taken by authorities where it can be proved an adult intended to meet a child. Increasingly, online abusers have no intention of meeting the child physically. They may, for example, persuade a child to perform sexual acts via a webcam.
UK Safer Internet Centre
Parents and carers play a key role in supporting children to learn about how to stay safe online, and they are one of the first people children turn to if things go wrong. We know it can be difficult to stay on top of the wide range of sites and devices that young people use, so we hope that this advice for parents and carers about staying safe online helps.