What can I do and what resources are available to help keep young people safe online?

Most social media platforms are not designed to be accessed by young people; but the reality is that young people spend many hours using them. And whilst time spent online can be incredibly rewarding, what are the issues in keeping young people safe?

Younger children (age 12 and under)

PopJam provides a safe alternative to mainstream social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, and is designed for under 13’s to participate in social networking. PopJam has a team of professional, dedicated moderators who monitor the platform 24 hours a day, and has filters to stop bad language, negative comments or the sharing of personal information.

BBC Own It is a new website full of fun and empowering tips, insight, stories and advice to help 9-12 year olds get the most out of their time online. Own It brings a child’s perspective of online life and the issues it throws up. It covers everything from online privacy and avoiding malware, through to dealing with everyday dilemmas children face online, as well as having fun. Quick links to charities and organisations like Childline, whose phone lines and online chat can provide urgent support should children need it, are also be available.

Young people (age 13 and over)

Currently, the minimum age to open an account on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Kik, Nintendo and Snapchat is 13. For Vine, Tinder and Yik Yak it is 17. YouTube requires account holders to be 18, but a 13-year-old can sign up with a parent's permission.

These sites all have a range of different features which can be turned on to help make them safer for young people to use, but the differences between them can be quite confusing, so a great place to start is Net Aware which aims to provide impartial help on the features/benefits of these and many other sites that appeal to young people.

Young people are naturally curious about social sites that their friends and classmates may be using, and will often experiment. Striking a balance between keeping them safe and allowing them the freedom to explore, learn, share and communicate can be difficult. This blog explains how one parent addressed the issue with his own children.

For specific remedial information and places to turn for help on the issue of bullying (both on and offline), these sites have some great information and sources of advice: