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6.1.24 Internet Safety


The purpose of this document is to clarify the roles and responsibilities of looked after children, carers, social workers, residential childcare workers, the Virtual School for Looked After Children and other professionals who work with looked after children in relation to Internet Safety.

Children can access the Internet in many different ways, using a variety of devices including desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones and games consoles. This Policy aims to provide guidance relating to looked after children's safe use of the Internet regardless of how and where they access it.

The Internet is an integral part of our lives and children need to learn how to use it safely and effectively; ultimately they need to take responsibility for their own safety. The overarching emphasis of this policy, therefore, is to provide guidance on how carers and all corporate parenting partners can help looked after children achieve this.

General guidance and information on Internet Safety is set out in the London Child Protection Policy 5.25 Information and Communication technology (ICT)-based forms of abuse.


Child Safety Online – a practical guide for parents and carers whose children are using social media (GOV.UK)


In December 2016, a link to Child Safety Online – a practical guide for parents and carers whose children are using social media was added into Related Guidance.


  1. Risk Assessment
  2. Agreements
  3. Monitoring, Supervision and Encouraging Safe Use of Internet
  4. Support and Training
  5. Resources

    Appendix 1: Young Person's Acceptable Use Agreement

1. Risk Assessment

Every child is different, each placement provides a different set of circumstances and the Internet is constantly changing. For these reasons it is impossible to provide a single set of rules to cover every aspect of Internet safety for all looked after children.

The child/young person's social worker should include in the profile of the child/young person a risk assessment on accessing/risk with the Internet when the young person enters a new placement or when a new placement agreement is set up. This will help to determine what the acceptable level of Internet use is for that individual and guide the process of setting up the Agreements outlined in below.

2. Agreements

(See Appendix 1: Young Person's Acceptable Use Agreement)

  • The Young Person's Acceptable Use Agreement should be signed by the carer, the child and child's social worker at the beginning of the placement or when the young person starts to have access to the Internet. All looked after children must sign the Agreement (see Appendix 1: Young Person's Acceptable Use Agreement);
  • For many children the statements contained within the Young Person's Acceptable Use Agreement will need to be explained in appropriate terms. For this reason the Agreement should form the basis of a discussion between the Carer, the Child and Social Worker and should not be signed until this discussion takes place;
  • A set of Home Internet Rules, based on the Young Person's Acceptable Use Agreement and the Risk Assessment must be negotiated with the child. The rules should be relevant to the child's needs and the carer's home circumstances;
  • The Home Internet Rules should set clear boundaries, using appropriate language, about what is expected of the child or young person while in that particular placement. These could include:
    • Time limits;
    • The type of sites or specific sites that the young person is permitted or not permitted to use;
    • Agreement to explain or show carers what they are doing online at any time;
    • Any behaviour that is unacceptable e.g. bullying, gossiping;
    • If the young person accesses social networking sites, agreement to share who their online 'friends' are, ensure privacy settings are appropriately set and establish the type of activity that is acceptable;
    • The need to tell someone if inappropriate content is accessed or they are upset by anyone while online;
    • The need to ask before carrying out certain activities e.g. setting up an account on a games site, joining a social networking site.
  • It is recommended that the Home Internet Rules are displayed or kept near to the device that the child uses most frequently to access the Internet;
  • The Home Internet Rules should be reviewed and, if necessary, revised at regular intervals;
  • Carers are also required to sign a Statement that they have read and agree to abide by the Internet Safety Policy (see Appendix 1: Young Person's Acceptable Use Agreement).

3. Monitoring, Supervision and Encouraging Safe Use of the Internet

  • It is recognised that children can access the Internet in many ways and through a variety of devices that are not always easy to monitor or supervise. For this reason carers are only expected to take reasonable steps to monitor and supervise children's online activities as recommended in Internet Security Procedure;
  • Carers need to be aware that children who have experienced past trauma or have low self-esteem can be more vulnerable to the dangers associated with the internet;
  • Carers may choose to prevent children's Internet access on a temporary basis as a sanction. However it is not usually acceptable for children to be prevented from accessing the Internet permanently. Children need to learn how to use the Internet safely and take responsibility for their own safety. This is best achieved by providing support in the home environment while accessing the internet;
  • All carers must ensure that they keep themselves up to date on current Internet Safety issues;
  • The Carers' role in helping children to learn how to use the Internet safely is extremely important and they must ask for support and/or further training if they lack confidence or knowledge in this area;
  • Carers and social workers should identify and request additional training or support for children if appropriate;
  • If carers have any concerns about children's online activities they should report it to the child's or their own supervising social worker;
  • Computers with Internet access must be located in a publicly accessible area. Children should not, be allowed to access the Internet in a bedroom or similar private area although the age of the child should be taken into consideration;
  • Carers and Social Workers need to be aware that most mainstream Social Networking sites impose a minimum age limit of 13 on their membership. This includes Facebook, MySpace and Bebo. Youtube states that their site is not intended for under 13 year olds to view and that members must be over 18 or have parental/guardian consent to add content to the site. It is therefore inappropriate for children under 13 years old to use social networking sites which are also used by adults;
  • There are a number of social networking sites designed specifically for under 13 year olds such as Club Penguin, Moshimonsters and Poptropica. These sites ask for parental permission before young people 'sign up', include limited and/or moderated social networking content and do not store children's personal information. However the safety levels vary from site to site so carers and parents are advised to read the sites safety and privacy policies and monitor children's use of these sites if they use them;
  • Prohibiting young people from using social networking sites at home will not necessarily prevent them from accessing them elsewhere. A more effective way of helping to keep children safe when using social networking sites is to:
    • Ensure young people set their privacy settings appropriately;
    • Pay attention to what information the young person is posting; and
    • Encourage young people to share their social networking experiences with an appropriate adult.
  • Young People who wish to post images of themselves on websites must be made aware of the risks involved and discouraged to. In some cases it may be too risky for children to post images on social networking sites such as Facebook or MSN. This must be assessed by the child's social worker on an individual basis. A similar approach should be taken around the use of webcams;
  • New communications technologies can offer an ideal means of keeping in touch with family members and so provide great benefits to many children in care. This can include the use of email, texts, instant messaging Skype and social networking sites.

However, except for very young children, it is effectively impossible to prevent, supervise or monitor online methods of contact. In addition the internet provides an easy vehicle for family members and young people to make and maintain contact in secret. This is effectively "unsupervised" contact which could result in significant harm to children, their carers and the placement.

4. Support and Training


No two situations are exactly alike and inevitably scenarios will arise which are not specifically addressed here. If carers or young people have issues arise relating to Internet safety the carer's or child's social workers are normally the first point of enquiry. In addition the Virtual School and Brent Safeguarding Children Board are able to provide advice and support.

Social Workers and Supervising Social Workers will:

  • Be familiar with and promote the Council's Internet Safety Policy for Looked After Children to carers and children;
  • Provide support and advice in establishing and enforcing the Acceptable Use Agreements and Home Internet Agreements within the carers' homes or residential unit;
  • Follow up and inform on issues around young peoples' and carers' activities on the Internet;
  • Keep abreast of issues around Internet safety by attending appropriate training, accessing relevant resources and by consultation with the Virtual School and/or the Brent Safeguarding Children Board;
  • Encourage carers to access relevant advice and guidance and attend Internet safety training;
  • Encourage and support LAC in using the Internet safely and responsibly;
  • Help LAC to understand the importance of safe Internet use.

5. Resources

There is a wide range of materials, which offer advice, support and information on Internet Safety Issues. Below is a short list of some of these resources.

Web Sites:

CEOP ( )

This is the web site of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, which delivers a multi-agency service dedicated to tackling the exploitation of children. It provides advice to parents, carers and children on Internet safety, an online reporting facility (Click CEOP) and the Thinkuknow web site (see below).

Thinkuknow ( )

These resources help young people, parents and carers and teachers to learn about the risks that young people may encounter whilst using the Internet. Developed by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) the Thinkuknow web site also includes a facility for young people to report online abuse.

Childnet International ( )

This web site provides a range of resources to help children and young people to use the Internet constructively and to protect children from being exploited in the online environments provided by new technologies.

It includes comprehensive advice for young people, parents, teachers and carers about Internet and mobile safety in the form of downloadable leaflets and interactive activities.

Click Clever Click Safe

The Click Clever Click Safe Code has been designed to act as an everyday reminder of simple good behaviours, to help you and your children avoid common risks online.

Get Safe Online ( )

This site is the result of a joint initiative between the Government, law enforcement, leading businesses and the public sector. This site provides free, independent, user-friendly advice on Internet security and safety. Look in Resources for Parents, Teachers and Young People in the Knowledge Base for advice on Internet safety.

BBC ( )

General advice on Internet safety for parents, carers and children together with links to a huge range of online resources. Includes interactive activities for children.

Digizen ( )

The Digizen site has been set up by Childnet International to help tackle online bullying or cyber bullying. It contains advice for young people and parents/carers on social networking and cyberbullying.

Kidsmart ( )

Advice and activities for children, parents and carers including interactive sections based on the SMART rules.

Ofcom Guidance on Parental Controls for Games Consoles ( )

Type games consoles in the search box on the Ofcom web site to access a summary of parental controls features on games consoles. The page includes links to the leading games consoles manufacturers to access instructions on how to set up the controls.


Safer Children in a Digital World: The Report of the Byron Review (National Archives)

This review looks at the evidence on the risks to children's safety and well being by exposure to potentially harmful or inappropriate material on the Internet and in video games.

It also aims to assess the effectiveness and adequacy of existing measures to help prevent children being exposed to such material and help parents understand and manage the risks of access to inappropriate content, and finally to make recommendations for improvements or additional action.

You can access it online at:

  • Department for Education;
  • Social Networking and Contact
    How social workers can help adoptive families;
  • Facing up to Facebook
    A survival guide for adoptive families;
  • Foster Care and Social Networking, 2011
    A Guides for Social Workers and Foster carers.

    Both books by Eileen Fursland, Published by BAAF, 2010

Many of the issues faced by adoptive families in relation to social networking are similar to those faced by foster carers. These books provide valuable guidance on how to manage children's use of social networking sites and issues that can arise.

Appendix 1: Young Person's Acceptable Use Agreement

Click here to view Appendix 1: Young Person's Acceptable Use Agreement.