Online safety and social media

Last updated: 04 Sep 2018

Mobile phones, social networking sites and the internet can be great tools to help organisations and groups communicate with children and young people. However, if used inappropriately, they can also pose potential safeguarding risks and this may lead to abuse, both online and offline.

Creating a safe environment

When creating a safer environment for children and young people, you must consider online safety and:

  • ensure you have a safeguarding policy and online safety policy
  • know how to recognise online abuse and harm
  • respond to concerns immediately
  • be respectful in all your communications
  • be mindful of children’s right to privacy, to explore the internet and to express themselves.

Communicating online

  • Always use age-appropriate language in your communications and make sure all your communications are relevant to the work of the project you’re involved in
  • Use organisational accounts to communicate with children and young people via email or social media, never personal accounts
  • Use an organisational mobile or tablet to communicate with young people, where possible
  • Understand how different social media platforms work and what their age limits are – for example you should never use Facebook to communicate with under 13 year-olds
  • Always ask children and parents if you want to take and/or share photos of a child for any purpose.

Controls for computers, tablets and other hardware

You should make sure that you use parental controls on all devices.

If you provide young people with access to live streaming media (e.g. webcams and Skype) use an open area where the activity can be observed by a trusted adult.

> Find out more about how to prevent online abuse 

> Find out about parental controls on the NSPCC website

Reporting concerns

Concerns about online abuse or inappropriate behaviour should be reported to the person responsible for safeguarding issues within your organisation, such as your designated safeguarding officer.

You can also call the NSPCC helpline 24/7 on 0808 800 5000, report your concern online or email us at help@nspcc.org.uk