Safer Internet Day – 9th February 2021

An internet we trust: exploring reliability in the online world.


of young people in the UK heard about the day

Top Tips

Top Tips for use with 3-7s

These top tips have been written for you (parents and carers) to share, and talk about, with your children. It’s never too early to talk about life online!

Become internet detectives

Remind your child that not everything they read online is true…
Whether your child likes games, videos or learning about their favourite dinosaur online, it’s important they recognise that not everything they see or hear will be true. Talk about this together or find some examples you could examine as ‘internet detectives.’ Keep it simple by telling them, “The internet can be great for finding things out, but you need to remember that not everything online is true! Some things might be a joke, an opinion, a mistake, or deliberately untrue.”

Compare with trusted sources

Help to check online information and content using other websites…
It is important that your child knows that information online can be put there by anyone! Therefore, because it may be unreliable, they need to check in other places too – to see if other sources say the same thing, or something different. You can do this by looking on at least two other websites, to compare the information. Start by using websites created by organisations that you know and trust, and those that have information specifically created for children.

Use books and television

Remind your child they can also fact-check information offline…
Checking the information that you find online, can be done offline too! Ask your child if they can think of any other places that they can look for information, e.g. by looking in a non-fiction book (e.g. an encyclopaedia), by watching a TV documentary, or by asking someone who knows about the subject. You don’t have to do all these things, for every single fact that you find, but it’s important to remember that a range of offline options are available too.

Be aware of strangers

Talk about who children can and cannot trust on the internet…
There are a huge range of sites and services that allow communication between users. A good example of this is when it comes to playing online games. Explain to your child that it is safest only to talk to people online that you already know, like your family and close friends. Explore the apps that your children want to use and look for the safety / privacy settings available – they may include features that allow you to control who your child can interact with. Remember, friends made online are still strangers and so all personal information must be kept safe.

Reach out for help

Encourage your child to discuss any concerns with someone they trust…
Let your child know that the best way to address any problem they have online, is to tell a trusted adult immediately. For example, this might include someone sending them a friend request; an online message; telling them to visit a specific website, or app; or asking them for their personal information. Reassure them that if anything happens online that they are unsure about, or makes them feel worried or upset, they can come to you for help.

Top Tips for use with 7-11s

Have a look at the tips and links below with some suggestions on how to get you started and help you to stay safe and positive online:

Do your research

Question, evaluate and reflect on the online content you see….
Remember that not everything online is always what it seems. Information, photos and even videos can be edited, faked or may have more than one motive – like trying to get you to spend money or share your personal information. If something seems odd, or you haven’t heard about it before, it’s best to do a bit more research.

Check and double-check

Use other websites and sources to fact-check online information…
Luckily there’s lots of ways to check whether things are trustworthy online. Most importantly look at more than one source – this could include other webpages, videos or offline sources like books and newspapers. Remember there are lots of adults who can support you too – like parents, other family members and teachers.

Stay safe online

Don’t share your personal details or trust strangers online…
There are some simple actions we can take to help keep everyone safe online – like not sharing personal information. Remember that other people online may not always be who they appear to be, so be sure to check with an adult if you are ever unsure about what to share or who you are chatting to online.

Take positive action

Help make the internet a more trustworthy and respectful place…
Remember that the online world is for everyone so always treat others with respect. If you see anything online that worries or upsets you, use the block and report buttons to take positive action to stop it and tell an adult what’s happened. By working together, we can make the internet a better, more respectful and more trustworthy place.

Make a difference!

List the apps and websites you know that feature reliable information…
The internet is amazing – there’s so much to see, do and learn! If you are ever unsure about something then ask an adult that you trust for some help and advice. Why not make a list together of your favourite apps and websites, including the ones you think are most trustworthy?

Top Tips for use with 11-18s

Have a look at the tips and links below with some suggestions on how to get you started and help you to stay safe and positive online:

Question the source

Can you confirm online information by using other websites?
Checking the source can help you make a judgement on whether the information they are sharing is trustworthy. Consider where the information has come from and if you know the person or company sharing it. This could give you a reason to be suspicious or to feel that you can trust it. Can you find the same information somewhere else? The more sources that say the same thing, and the more reliable those sources, the more likely it is that the information can be trusted.

Fact or opinion

Always check whether there could be another side to the story…
Take the time to examine the information you see online and compare it to what you already know about that topic. Do you know enough to decide whether to trust it? If not, then do a little more research to find out more. Think about what the information is telling you and look for facts or quotes to support the argument. Is an opinion being presented as a fact? Be aware that a lot of what we see online is other people’s opinions and that there could be another side of the argument. Remember that opinions you see online are just that, you do not have to follow them and your opinion is just as important. If the viewpoint of the writer is very clear this could be a sign of bias.

Is it too good to be true?

Understand the motives behind the content you see online…
Think about the reasons behind the things you see online and why they are there. If a celebrity is promoting a product it is likely that they are being paid to do so. Understanding the motive behind the things you see online can really help you to decide what to trust. Look at the way the information or products are presented. Are you being sold something? Is someone trying to change your mind? Reviews can be useful but they cannot always be trusted. It has been known for people to write positive reviews of items to boost sales. Be sure to think about what you already know before you trust something online. Remember that if something looks too good to be true it probably is.

Check with your friends

Discuss, research and evaluate online information with people you trust…
If you are suspicious or not sure about something you see online talk to your friends for a second opinion. You might not all agree but it can be really useful to share your knowledge and talk it through. One of your friends may have taken the time to research it further or have some useful experience in this area. Ask your friends what they think. Do your friends think this is trustworthy or not? Find out what your friends know about this too. You can also work together to think about other people or sources that will help you to decide.

Talk it through

Work with adults to identify and stop misleading or unfair content…
It can be hard to know what to do about false or misleading content online, but if you see something misleading, upsetting or worrying online then speak to a trusted adult. This is an issue that affects everyone – talking it through with someone who supports you can help you feel less alone. Even if you don’t know all the answers, together you could take some small steps like making a report, and letting others know not to share it on. Do you think what you’re seeing is misleading or unfair? Has something been presented in a way to deliberately create hatred and anger? Is it upsetting or worrying? These are all things to look out for and talking them through with an adult can help.

Top Tips for Parents and Carers

Have a look at the tips and links below with some suggestions on how to get you started and help you to stay safe and positive online.

Talk together

Communication is the key to identifying online misinformation….
Talk regularly with your child about how they use technology and where they go for information online. Discuss who they follow, what types of adverts they see, and what stories they find surprising or suspicious. Listening to your child will give you the best possible idea of how you can support them. Not sure where to begin? Have a look at our suggested ‘Conversation Starters’ for parents and carers.

Set an example

Show your child how you question and evaluate online content….
If you come across a fake news story, or get sent a phishing email, discuss with your child how you spotted it and what you did. Why not ask them for a second opinion? Your child may have already heard about it or seen something similar, and if not, it’s a learning opportunity for both of you. Seeing a parent actively question and evaluate online content teaches young people the importance of doing the same.

Think before you share

Fact-check and reflect before sharing content, posts or pictures….
It can be tempting to share surprising or attention-grabbing online content with your child or your family group chats, but make sure to fact-check these links before you do. As it’s come from a parent, some children may believe it without questioning it, and older children may find it difficult or awkward to point out if it is false or misleading. This is another chance to set a good example in how to share information responsibly online.

Check in with your child

How does misleading information they see online make them feel?
False and misleading content online can be upsetting and confusing, e.g. harmful claims that target specific groups, or unhealthy lifestyle tips. Young people may feel powerless when faced with the amount of unreliable content they see. Regularly check-in with your child about their online life and ask them how what they see makes them feel. This is an issue that affects all of us. Reassure your child that you are there to talk about things that upset them and to support them with how they feel.

Seek help and support

Ask other parents how they address misleading online content….
Just as we ask young people to talk about what they are unsure of, make sure you do too! Chances are that you’ll find other parents or carers who are trying to figure out how to help their family avoid false information and get the most out of the internet.

Find out how to get more support by visiting Childnet’s ‘Need Help?’ page. You can take steps to support your child online by using features such as making a report on a range of apps, games and services, and using privacy settings on social media.