Accessing Inappropriate Content

Children can come across things online which are inappropriate for their age and stage of development. You can use filters to block this content and prepare your child by showing them the best ways to avoid it.

What sort of inappropriate content might my child see?


What you think is inappropriate material for your child will probably differ from your child’s view or that of other parents. It will also depend on your child’s age and maturity level. Inappropriate content includes information or images that upset your child, material that’s directed at adults, inaccurate information or information that might lead or tempt your child to behave badly oline. This could be:

  • Pornographic material

  • Content containing swearing

  • Sites that encourage vandalism, crime, racism, eating disorders, even suicide

  • Pictures, videos or games which show images of violence or cruelty to other people or animals

  • Gambling sites

  • Unmoderated chatrooms – where there’s no one supervising the conversation and barring unsuitable comments

It can be difficult to monitor what your child is viewing as they can access this material through any internet enabled device, including mobile ones such as a phone or tablet. Sometimes your child may stumble upon unsuitable sites by accident, through apps they’ve downloaded to their mobile device or through links they’ve been sent by friends, chatting to others online, or even through inter-device communication systems such as Bluetooth or Apple’s AirDrop.

Talk to your child about avoiding inappropriate content


Tools like parental controls can help to protect your children from accessing inappropriate content, but you can’t check everything they see on the internet. You need to help them avoid unsuitable content, and cope with it if they see it.

The first step is to talk to them about it:

  • Start a conversation
    As soon as your child starts to use the internet you should begin to talk about what they might find there. Help them understand that sometimes they may come across things that they’d prefer not to see, or that you would prefer they didn’t see. Try to have these conversations regularly.
  • Make sure they know about age limits
    Many sites have a minimum age limit of 13 – this includes websites like YouTube, Musically, Lively, SnapChat, Instagram and Facebook. Explain to your child that age limits are there to help protect them from unsuitable content.
  • Talk to other parents at school
    Ask other parents and your child’s school what sort of rules they’re following and what they recommend.

Agree ground rules


Find out the kind of things your child likes to do online and agree which websites and apps are best for them to use. These should include the search engines they use to find information. There are child-friendly search engines that are especially suitable for children such as google safe search and kids youtube..

  • Be calm and reassuring
    Let your child know they can talk to you or a trusted adult if they come across anything that upsets them online.
  • Managing access to inappropriate content
    By putting a few simple measures in place you can help your child avoid inappropriate content and focus on experiencing the best of the internet. Here are some things you can do:
  • Set up parental controls
    Put parental controls on your home broadband. See the Parental Controls page for more information.
  • Set parental controls on your search engine
    Encourage your child to always use child-friendly search engines, such as Swiggle or Kids-search.
    Safe search settings can be activated on Google and Bing. For other search engines go to safety settings. Don’t forget to opt for the safety mode on YouTube, iTunes and Google Play.
  • Make sure every device is protected
    Parental controls should be installed on every device your child uses: mobile phone, tablet and games consoles (both home and handheld).
  • Find good sites and agree on them as a family
    By talking to your child about their interests you can help them find suitable sites to visit and apps to use. Review these sites as they get older.
  • Manage their use and access
    Your child may be less likely to let you know they’re distressed by something they’ve seen online if they think you’ll take away their internet access but it may be appropriate to do this in some instances. Be aware of this when talking to them, and let them know they can talk to you or a trusted adult whenever they need to.