Keeping Young People Safe Online

Harmful or Inappropriate Content

Just like the real world, there are spaces, people, and places online which can be frightening or distressing for young people. Parents and policymakers have expressed concern at the sheer amount of inappropriate material that is freely accessible online, such as pornography or violent videos.

Harmful content can include live inappropriate communication, violence, sexualised content and the incitement of activities that can harm the physical and emotional health of young people. 

Talking to young people about harmful content can seem daunting, especially when talking about something you haven’t necessarily seen or experienced yourself. However, sensitively addressing the issue by talking is important, particularly when you know or suspect the issue might impact a child or young person in your care.

Did you know?

Algorithms in social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok run constantly to try and curate the ‘perfect’ feed for every individual. Unfortunately, this means that anytime someone watches a video or likes a photo that could be linked to distressing material, more material like this will appear. This makes it harder to escape harmful or upsetting content.


Click or Tap this box to learn more about where you can find support

If you need guidance and support on issues affecting children you can contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 500 or email [email protected]

Other contacts:

  • Report Harmful Content: To report harmful content, visit this website
  • Nexus Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline: is a free, confidential and 24/7 helpline and webchat that provides information and support for anyone over 16 with concerns about domestic and sexual abuse.
  • Parentline: is a free and confidential helpline and online chat service for parents and carers in Northern Ireland.
  • ParentingNI: provide a free support line and webchat for parents and carers in Northern Ireland.
  • Childline: If a child requires help and support in confidence, they can call Childline on 0800 1111.

What you need to know

Ofcom highlight three types of harms found online:
  1. CONTENT harms This relates to harmful text, images and videos (often sexualised or violent). Suicide and self-harm content can often be found online. This includes websites, forums, and social media content that promote or glorify these behaviours. It’s important to address this issue sensitively and provide support to those affected.
  2. CONTACT harms Online platforms can become breeding grounds for cyberbullying, where individuals use digital means to harass, intimidate, or humiliate others. This can have severe emotional and psychological impacts on children and young people.
  3. COMMERCIAL harms Content which puts a user at risk of financial harm or disadvantage such as fake news and misinformation. Children and young people are susceptible to encountering false information, conspiracy theories, and propaganda online. This can negatively impact their understanding of the world, critical thinking skills, and ability to distinguish fact from fiction.

Welcome to the Online Safety Hub

How old are you?

If you are under 18, click the blue button below to visit the Online Safety Hub micro-site for children and young people.