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Gambling information, advice and support for young people

Online activity: How to keep your child safe on social media

Social media is constantly developing, and as a parent/guardian, it is hard to ensure how to keep your child safe online. We’re here to support you with online safety advice by breaking down some of the risks, challenges, and steps you can take to promote safer internet use for your child.

Social Media

There are many social media channels that young people use, including the most popular sites like TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube. Social media can allow users to stay connected with friends and family or learn many different things, from how to edit videos or watching tutorials on how to make slime or how to make cupcakes. However, there can be risks you should be aware of to help keep your child safe on social media.

Talking to people they don’t know

There are certain social channels that encourage users to interact with people they don’t know, and unfortunately, there are people online who pretend to be someone else. This can put your child at risk of online abuse or even being groomed.

Social channels you should be aware of: Omegle, MeetMe, Whisper, Yik Yak.

Some channels allow users to go ‘live’, which means you can stream a live broadcast on the app. Livestreams can be watched by hundreds or possibly thousands of viewers. Some of these viewers may be looking to exploit children and young people. They could even try to manipulate them into sharing more information about themselves or into doing things they do not want to do.

Apps that have this feature: YouTube, TikTok, Facebook Live, Instagram Live and Twitch TV. TikTok is a popular app with a ‘live’ feature that allows users to interact with creators in real time. Users must be over 18 to launch this.

Digital Footprint

It is important to be aware of your digital footprint; what is shared on the internet normally stays there even if you delete the post, as there is a trail of data left behind. Tools such as screenshotting and screen recording mean that anything posted, including live streams, can be recorded by their viewers and shared more widely across other networks without knowledge or consent.  

It’s important to talk to your child about the consequences of this digital footprint. What you say or do on social media shapes what people think of you now and in the future. For instance, future employers could look them up online and if they see something that is controversial, even from their teenage years, it’s possible that this will affect the hiring decision.

Sharing their location

Certain apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter allow you to share your location. Some ways users might share their location is by tagging location on images, sharing journeys, checking into venues or sharing images that show what location they are at currently.

Some geolocation tags may list the exact address of your location and not just the city or area you are in, which means anyone who can view your child’s social media posts can find them in person. This can put your child in danger as sharing their location increases the risks of stalking, cyberbullying or unwanted contact.

A lot of young people use Snap Maps, which is a feature on Snapchat where you can share your location. For many young people, it makes them feel connected with their friends, and they can check on them to see if they got to their location safely. However, this can be a safety hazard, as everybody that you allow to can see your exact location. The feature allows you to zoom close enough to see the town, road and house you’re in. This could be dangerous and put your child at risk if they have allowed map access to someone who they don’t know or are not friends with.   


Young people are more prone to oversharing online if they are not experienced with the dangers of it. Young people may sometimes feel pressured to overshare personal information with other users. If they speak to someone they do not know online and are asked personal questions like their date of birth or pet name, it can be worrying as it can expose your identity. This could even lead to fraud, so it is vital to make them aware of certain things they should not share with others and what to keep confidential.

What can you do?

  • Have a conversation about how to be cautious about what they share online and the dangers it can cause.
  • Key things to consider keeping private are personal details like full name, address, phone number, date of birth, sending inappropriate images/videos of themselves, their live location, bank card details, name of their school.
  • Remind them that people they’ve met online might feel like friends, but they may not be who they say they are or have their best interests at heart.
  • Remind your child that they should never meet someone they met online without a parent present.
  • It’s easy to say “don’t do this” without explaining why you’re concerned. Explain to them the importance of keeping safe whilst interacting with the online world.
  • If your child has posted something they regretted or overshared, explain that there are options like deleting the post or speaking to a family or friend for advice.
  • Have open discussions by asking if they have seen anything online that they were concerned about and build trust that they can speak to you or contact Childline.
  • Look at the privacy settings on the platforms they use to manage who can see their profile and what they can share. This also includes the camera on your phone, so it does not tag your location in the meta data of an image. To learn more about privacy settings, click here.
  • TikTok has a Family Pairing feature which allows parents to customise their safety settings and set parental controls which include daily screen time, restricted mode, search, discoverability, direct messages and comments.