News

28 October 2020

Should I be worried about my child sharing videos and images online?

Girl with phone

From Snapchat to Instagram, more and more young people are using video sharing apps to create and share their own content with their friends online. While it’s normal for kids to be curious about using these types of apps, it’s important to talk to them about what they’re sharing online and how they can use them safely.

Why do kids use apps like TikTok and Snapchat?

There are lots of reasons kids might share videos and images online but here are some of the most common:

 

• Instead of using traditional messaging apps like WhatsApp, they might use apps like Snapchat and Instagram, which have lots of fun and creative features like ‘filters’ and ‘expiring content’ they can use to communicate with their friends.

 

• Young people are becoming more aware of influencers who earn money through social media. They might aspire to be a famous YouTuber or TikTokker and create their own vlogs on YouTube or TikTok to gain more followers. Sometimes they might choose to overshare or do something risky to gain more attention and become more popular.

 

• Challenges and viral memes are popular on these types of apps and kids might use them to keep up to date with the latest trends and see what others are sharing.

 

• Some kids might use these types of apps to make new friends and meet new people online.

How you can keep them safe

If an account is public, it’s easy for people you don’t know to come across your posts and videos. We would recommend that you set your child’s account to private so only their friends can see what they post. Ask your child about their followers, and remind them they should only be accepting requests from people they know and have met before, like friends from school, a club or family.

Use our reviews of these apps to explore some of the other parental controls on offer and see if they will work for your child.

TikTok has a feature that lets you connect your child’s account to your own to help manage how long your child spends on the app. Similarly, Instagram has features that lets you stop certain people from commenting on posts. Make sure to speak with your child about the parental controls you put in place and explain why you’re using them, for example to help keep them safer.

Once information or videos have been shared online it can be hard to know who has seen it. Even if an account is private an image or video can still be saved by someone who follows you and shared without your permission.

Help your child think about what they’re sharing online and who can see it. Remind them that once something has been shared it can’t be unseen and encourage them to think carefully before they post anything new.

Tell your child to never post anything in real-time that could give away their location, like if they’re at the park or school. They should also never film themselves wearing a school or club uniform or share any other private information like names, phone numbers or links to other social media accounts.

You should also remind them to never name their location in anything they post online.

Make sure your child knows how to delete an image or video off an app in case they change their mind about something they’ve posted. You can normally do this directly on the app or site. If you’re unsure how to do this, use our reviews to help you.

Challenge videos

 

Challenge videos are really popular on apps like TikTok. A challenge video is where someone films themselves doing something and then shares it online, encouraging others to copy. Often younger children will see these types of videos and want to recreate them to share on their own account.

 

These challenges can be an enjoyable way for your child to explore the online world with friends. They can also be a great way for you to have fun as a family and talk about the importance of keeping personal information out of what you are sharing online.

 

Sometimes these types of videos can involve taking risks that could be dangerous. Make sure to talk to your child about these types of videos and remind them to never film themselves doing anything that could cause them harm.


If your child sees a video that they find upsetting or worrying, they might want to report it or block the user who posted it. Check out our reviews to find out how to do this on popular apps like Snapchat.

It’s important to remind your child that not everyone feels comfortable having images and videos of themselves being shared online and they should always check before they film or take a picture of another person.

Talk to your child about some of the risks involved in sharing images or videos of other people. For example it might encourage unkind comments or it might make the other person feel upset or anxious. Ask if they would like it if someone shared an image or video or them without their permission.

Remind them to never re-share an image or video of someone else, especially if the person in the video seems upset or doesn’t know they’re being filmed.

Some children might form new relationships online and might choose to share a sexual message and/or a naked or semi-naked image, video or text message with another person. This is known as sexting.

You might want to talk to your child about some of the risks involved with sharing nude or sexual images or videos online. Remind them that it’s easy for people to screenshot posts and for them to then be seen by other people.

We understand that it can be distressing finding out your child has shared a nude or sexual image online and it’s hard to know what to do straight away.

It’s important to try and remain calm in these sorts of situations and not get angry. Instead let them explain what happened and how it has made them feel. Tell them they’ve been really brave to share this with you and reassure them that you will do all you can to help support them through this. If you need further support, you could call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 for advice.

Report Remove from Childline is a service where young people under 18 can go to report a nude image or video of themselves that might have been shared online and get it removed. Kids will need to upload identification and the process normally takes a few days to complete.

Encourage your child to explore the resources on Childline to help them better understand some of the ways they might be feeling and find out ways they can get additional support.

We would also recommend reading the advice article NSPCC has on sexting and sharing nude images.