E Safety Newsletter Autumn 2023

Welcome to our Autumn E-Safety Newsletter.

Each half term this newsletter should provide you with some hints, tips and news to help keep you and your family safe.

Safe Searching

There is so much online that we would not want our child to view and even an innocent search can result in inappropriate content being seen. To make our child’s online world safer, we would firstly recommend switching on Safesearch settings for the search engine your child uses. However, as not all search engines allow you to ‘lock’ Safesearch on (so users may be able to simply turn it off), we would encourage you to apply further parental controls.

For some search engines, for example Google, you can set up a Family management account, which will ensure that Safesearch settings cannot be switched off. We would recommend using a family management account (either Google or Microsoft) so even if your child is using a search engine that cannot be locked, there will at least be an additional level of content filtering provided.

You can also use a Child Friendly Search Engine such as Swiggle. This is an ad-free search engine designed specifically for young children taking their first steps on the internet. ‘Powered by Google Custom Search, the results are filtered using Google SafeSearch and educational resources prioritised. We also filter the search terms to check that Swiggle is not being used to search for inappropriate content.’

In addition to the above, make sure you have set up appropriate parental controls on your home broadband (and any consoles/ devices/ apps/ websites that your child uses/accesses) for example, to restrict access to explicit websites or access to websites that are not suitable for children.

Please remember that no filtering/ parental control is 100% safe, so it is important that you talk to your child about how they can stay safe online and that they should talk to you or another trusted adult if they need to.

Free practical guides from Internet Matters will show you how to set up parental controls on various platforms and provide help with many filtering options, including how to set time and age limits, block certain content, lock settings with a password or PIN, and activate restricted modes where available.

CEOP have produced an article exploring what you could do if your child sees something inappropriate online:

Parent Zone have published an article to help you understand searching in more detail:

First phone for Christmas?

Ofcom’s 2022 research into technology use across the UK has shown that nearly all 13 – 15-year-olds (98%) have their own phone. For most of these young people, they were given their phones before the start of secondary school, between the ages of 9 and 11 (91%).

If you are considering getting your child their first phone, there are lots of factors to consider.

Childnet’s ‘First Phone Checklist’ is a great, easy to understand resource that takes you through the process of choosing the right time, setting it up and supporting your child.

Childnet’s ‘Moving on Up!’ videos are a great place to start conversations around new devices, digital wellbeing and online bullying.

TikTok is a free social media platform that lets users create, post and watch short videos. The app achieved popularity for its viral dance trends and celebrity cameos. it can be a creative and fun platform for teens to enjoy and now lots of businesses use it too. In 2022, an Ofcom report found it to be the most-used platform for posting content, particularly among 12-17-year-olds, this is despite the age restriction being 13+.

The app is not without its risks, however. Due to its popularity, it is often where viral trends/challenges start and get spread. Not all of these challenges are safe, yet young people can feel pressured into trying them. The app is also known for its addictive nature with Children in the UK spending an average of 102 minutes a day on the app.

There are things parents and carers are able to do to help limit the risks and help make the app a safer place, such as the family pairing function which lets them link their account to their child’s and adjust settings.

National Online Safety and Parent Zone have compiled some useful information, so click the links below for the guides.


Snapchat has introduced a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbot called “My AI” designed to help users with various tasks through their messaging section in the Snapchat app.

While this new feature can be helpful, there are some potential risks to young people who use this feature. In this article, Childnet explores the latest AI chatbot on Snapchat and its potential impact on young people.

What do I need to know about ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence chatbot which can be found online. Similarly to a robotic customer service often found on the corner of a website or app, ChatGPT generates content and answers based on a user’s question.

This article discusses why It’s important for parents and carers to talk with young people about how to use ChatGPT in an educational and safe way.

What is BeReal?

BeReal is a popular image-sharing app where you can post your own pictures as well as view other people’s. Users can only post once a day and are only able to see their friends’ images if they have shared their own.

At a different time every day, users receive an alert telling them it’s ‘Time to BeReal’. This gives them two minutes to take a picture, using both the front and back camera of their device and post it on the app. You can add captions to your images and each image you take is saved into a collection of ‘memories’ which is displayed on your profile.

What age rating is BeReal?

The app is rated 12+

Features of BeReal

The idea behind BeReal is to get a genuine snapshot of users’ lives. Certain features of the app are designed to encourage users to post as their ‘real’ selves.

  • you are only allowed two minutes to take and upload your image and you don’t know when this will happen. This means users don’t have time to stage their surroundings or change their appearance. If you post outside of this window, other users will be able to see that you have posted later
  • BeReal images can’t include filters and don’t allow you to edit the content. The app also alerts others if you retake your photo more than once
  • using both the front and back camera encourages you to post a selfie alongside what you can see in front of you. The app will also prompt you if your face isn’t clearly visible in the frame
  • you can only view your friends’ posts after you have uploaded your own, encouraging everybody to share at the same time
  • one of the unique features of BeReal, is the way you can react to other posts. Like other social media apps, you can choose from six standard emojis but in BeReal you can also create your own emoji, called a ‘RealMoji’. This means you take a live selfie, using your facial expression as the reaction. You can save these and use them again or take a new one when you want to react to someone’s post.

You can have BeReal set up in two different ways:

  • Discovery mode – allows you to share your images publicly. This means any other users can view and react to your posts. They will also be able to view your profile
  • My friends only – only people you add as a friend can see your posts. They will also be able to react to and comment on your images.

There are no specific parental controls on BeReal, but the following tips can help to keep your child safe when using the app.

Talk to them about sharing

Have regular conversations with your child about what is and isn’t ok to share. Remind them that they shouldn’t share private things, such as:

  • personal information, like names, phone numbers, links to other social media accounts or their school
  • Recognisable live or frequent locations (for example, street signs)
  • other people's personal information
  • links to join private group chats
  • photos of their body, such as sexual photos or videos.

Make sure they know that sharing pictures other people without their consent is not ok.

Set rules around friends

Make sure your child is using the ‘my friends only’ mode on BeReal. Talk to them about who they add as friends and tell them to come to you if they receive a friend request from someone they don’t know. Remind them that friends of friends might be people their friends don’t know either so it’s best to not add or accept requests from them. To remove a friend, follow these steps:

  • tap the friend icon in the top left corner.
  • go to the ‘friends’ tab
  • tap the x icon beside the friend you want to remove
  • tap delete
  • know where to report.

It is possible that your child might see content on BeReal that is inappropriate or worrying. If this happens, you should report it to the platform. To report something on BeReal simply tap on the three dots in the top right corner and click ‘report’.

Set rules around location sharing

When you post on BeReal, you have the option to share your location with others. This means that everyone on your BeReal can see your live location when you post. To turn off location-sharing:

  • take the picture
  • tap the location icon above ‘send’
  • tap the option to turn your location off.


How we go online is changing all the time.

Even if you haven't tried virtual reality yet, it's never too soon to find out a bit more.

A new series of Reality Check videos, created by Parent Zone and youth content platform VoiceBox together with Meta, explores safety and parental supervision tools for teens – and how to have the right kinds of family conversations about VR.