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Staying Safe Online

As we all know, the online world has the potential to be a tool to explore great learning and wider opportunities, but also to be a place of danger and fear. In our ongoing efforts to nurture positive and safe use of the internet, it goes without saying that this is only fully effective if we can do so in full cooperation with parents and guardians.


The following guidelines and links will enable you to access up-to-date information to help keep your child safe in the online world.


With so many other activities for children curtailed at present, it’s now more important than ever to have conversations about their online safety and learn about what steps you can take to protect them


Some tips for keeping your child safe online

  • Put yourself in control: Make use of the parental controls on your home broadband and any internet enabled devices.  You can find out how at your broadband provider’s website or by visiting
  • Search Safely: Use safe search engines such as or  Safe search settings can also be activated on Google and other search engines as well as YouTube.  You can find out more at
  • Agree boundaries: Be clear what your child can and can’t do online - where they can use the internet and how much time they can spend online, the sites they can visit and the type of information they can share.  Agree with your child when they can have a mobile phone or tablet.
  • Explore together: The best way to find out what your child is doing online is to ask them to tell you about it.  Encourage them to use devices in communal areas so you can see what sites they’re visiting and share with them.
  • Check if it's suitable: The age ratings that come with games, apps, films and social networks are a good guide to whether they’re suitable for your child.  Some popular games and apps are listed below. We would suggest the use of Common Sense Media as a good place to start.


Social networks

  • 13 years old and upwards: BBM, Bebo, Facebook, Flicker, Foursquare, Askfm, Google+, Habbo, Instagram, kik, LinkedIn, TikTok, Reddit, Snapchat, Tumblr, Twitter, Vimeo, YouNow, YouTube, Yubo, Houseparty, Monkey, Whisper
  • 14 years and upwards: Myspace
  • 16 years and upwards: WhatsApp, meet me
  • Only suitable for 17 years old and upwards: Periscope,
  • Not suitable for under 18 years old: Tagged, Omegle


Gaming Apps

  • Suitable for all ages: Super Mario Run, Minecraft, Pou, Animal Crossing, Roblox
  • 12 years and upwards: Fortnite
  • 13 years and upwards: Clash of Clans
  • 16 years and upwards: Player Unknown’s battleground
  • Strictly over 18 years old:Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty: WW2


We would strongly advise that children should not be using apps or playing games that are not age appropriate.


If you would like more information on any of the apps or games mentioned, provides parent guides for all the latest titles and trends.


The Department of Education Northern Ireland (DENI), has produced an award-winning Safer Schools App to support parents and carers to keep children in their care safer online.  This is an excellent resource which has access to information on the popular social media platforms  and provides an insight on critical issues such as bullying, sexting and gaming, along with easy to follow advice on how they can make their homes and the devices they give their children safer. Safer Schools Northern Ireland – Ineqe Safeguarding Group



Getting the screen time balance

Screen time can offer children opportunities to learn and develop new skills at the touch of a button but like anything, too much of it can have a negative effect on their wellbeing.


Effect on behaviour

  • Constant use of a device and features like auto-play on platforms can be habit forming and encourage children to spend longer on screens

Effect on the brain

  • Screens can have a drug-like effect on children’s brains which can make them more anxious

Effect on sleep

  • Blue light from phones can trick the brain into thinking it’s daylight making it difficult to sleep


5 tips to get the best use out of your children’s screen use:

Lead  by example

Just like anything, children copy their parents’ actions and behaviour.  If you set boundaries for your own screen time, it will be easier for your child to do the same.


Set boundaries WITH your child

Get them involved in the process of setting age appropriate limits on how long they can spend online, at what times and on which platforms.  Set up screen-free times or rooms where screens are out of sight and therefore more likely to be out of mind.  Review these as they get older and give them the space to get greater responsibility for their screen time. An example of a Family Media Agreements can be found at 


Ensure a healthy mix of screen activity

Make sure they have a good balance of screen activities that encourage creativity, learning and education, connecting with family and friends as well as using devices for passively engaging with content.


Avoid using screen time as a reward

This will elevate the status of screen time above other activities and like using food as a reward may encourage children to simply want more.


Physical activity and sleep are really important

Make sure screens are not replacing these things by keeping screens out of bedrooms at bed time and that you are creating opportunities for your child to be active each day.


Below are links to screen time age guides to help children get the best out of screen time and adopt a healthy digital diet.