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How to Keep Pre-Teens Safe Online: Advice for Parents

As the world becomes increasingly digital, children are at risk of the emotional dangers of social media.

Pre-teens, especially those transitioning from primary to secondary school, maybe the most vulnerable. It is essential for parents to understand how to protect their children online.




So what can we do as parents to protect our children online?

Here, Dr Gummer gives some advice about things we can do to better prepare pre-teens for the world of social media.

Understand the Risks

Children aren’t legally allowed to have social media accounts until they are at least 13 years old, but they can easily lie about their age during the sign-up process. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the risks involved and prepare pre-teens for the world of social media.


Provide alternate validation

Social media platforms are a source of validation and self-worth for children. However, providing other opportunities for validation, such as social clubs and organised activities, will help children gain self-worth outside of the virtual world.


Encourage face-to-face interaction

Face-to-face interactions help children develop meaningful relationships with others. Encourage children to put their phones down and participate in activities. If face-to-face interaction isn’t possible, video calls allow face-to-face interaction.


Educate yourself

Download social media platforms and educate yourself about how they work. This will enable you to talk to your children about the platforms and identify potential risks.


Be open and approachable

Children’s best role models are their parents. Encourage your children to ask you questions and be open with them. Children with strong social and emotional skills will be better equipped to be responsible digital citizens.


Talk to your child’s teacher

Find out what the school is teaching about the effects of social media and if they have a policy on its use. Talk to other parents and share information with them to keep up-to-date on the latest social media trends.


Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longford who authored a report in 2018 titled ‘Life in Likes’ says:

“Just because a child has learnt the safety messages at primary school, does not mean they are prepared for all the challenges that social media will present.”




As the world continues to become more digital, it’s essential to understand the risks involved and protect children from the emotional dangers of social media.

By providing alternative opportunities for validation and encouraging face-to-face interaction, parents can prepare pre-teens for the digital world. By educating yourself and being open with your children, you can become the best role model and ensure your child becomes a responsible digital citizen.