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What children see online

The internet’s a fantastic place for kids to learn, connect and have fun. But some websites, apps, games and videos aren’t suitable for young people. Learn about some of the risks of online content and help your child to deal with them.

Where’s the highest mountain in the world? Do pandas sneeze? From info for school projects to videos that make them laugh out loud, the internet gives children and teenagers access to loads of great content. But, with around one billion websites, there’s also some stuff online that isn’t appropriate for young people or that can trip them up. Here are eight types of online content that every parent should be aware of and some links and advice to help your family deal with them. At the end of this article, you’ll find our Take action tips.


Taking an interest in sex is a natural part of growing up but it’s important that young people can’t easily access pornographic content that could distress them or give them a distorted view of sex and relationships.

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According to a study by EU Kids Online, seeing violent content in things like online videos and computer games is a major concern for young people, especially if it involves violence or aggression towards children or animals. Find out more from: 

Illegal content

As a general rule, anything that is illegal in real life is illegal online. Illegal content on the internet includes images of child sexual abuse, racist material and criminally obscene adult content. Find out more from:

Internet Watch Foundation

Misleading and harmful information

Vulnerable young people with eating disorders and self-harm tendencies might seek information and support online. Children’s natural curiosity might also lead them to visit forums that promote extreme political or religious views. While there is lots of legitimate advice on the internet, some websites encourage harmful behaviours. Find out more from:

Parent Info

Music, games, films & TV

If your child downloads or streams content online, are you sure they’re doing it right? Some services like Spotify and Netflix are legal, others aren’t. Some services are free, others cost money. Find out more from:  Parent InfoChildnet


Pop-up ads on YouTube, in-game advertising, product endorsements by bloggers... we’re bombarded with marketing campaigns when we’re online. For children and teenagers who might not understand the difference between editorial and advertising, this can be confusing and harmful. Find out more from:


As a general rule, under 18s aren’t allowed to gamble but young people still come across adverts for gambling websites and might be offered free versions of gambling games. Find out more from:  Parent InfoGamCare

Spam & scams

Criminals might tempt younger internet users with fake websites that download malware on their system or trick them into sharing personal information. Find out more from:

Get Safe Online

Take action

  • Talk to your child regularly about the websites, apps and other digital services they enjoy using and encourage them to tell you if they are ever concerned about anything they see online

  • Agree some boundaries about what’s appropriate for their age and explain why some companies have minimum age limits in place (e.g. 13 on Facebook and Instagram

  • Make the most of parental controls like Google SafeSearch and YouTube Restricted Mode – there’s lots of useful information in our Tools & Controls section

  • Check age ratings on videos, apps and games before your son or daughter accesses them

  • Make sure your child’s digital devices are protected with anti-virus software, firewalls and anti-spyware products

Want your child to explore the digital world together as a family and with their peers? Take a look at our initiatives: