Content Providing (including Downloading)

Learn how to ensure children access safe and age-appropriate content online.

What is content providing?

There is so much information available on the internet that it’s like having the world’s biggest library at your fingertips. But not everything you read and see online will be true, and not everyone will be who they say they are. It is also illegal to download some files, while others could be infected with viruses which steal your personal details and pass them on to thieves. Below are a few things you need to consider when browsing the web - and few steps you can take to keep yourself safe.

Things to think about

  • Not everything you read or see online is true - it is easy for people to make things up or alter photos on the internet
  • There are things online you might find upsetting and distressing - you will know what these things are
  • Downloading may harm your computer or mobile device and could be illegal - just because you can download something, it doesn’t mean that you are allowed to or should do, as copyright law applies online. This is especially true of illegal file-sharing sites
  • If you make music, film or TV available to others on a file-sharing network, download from an illegal site or sell copies without the permission of those who own the copyright then you are breaking the law; use legal sites that reward the creators for their work
  • Copying someone else’s ideas and passing them off as your own is called plagiarism - your school will have rules about this. Ask them to explain them to you

Things to do

  • Learn how to block pop ups
  • Check whether information is true by looking on at least two other sites; ignore sites you don’t recognise and consider carefully what you are reading
  • Use reputable sources of information such as organisations or brands you know and trust
  • Only download files from websites you are sure are safe to use; sites might contain malicious software (such as viruses) which could damage your computer or steal your personal information.
  • Only open attachments or click on links in emails you are expecting; if you get a suspicious-looking email, even from a friend, it might not be genuine if their computer has been infected by a virus and you should not open it
  • Think - if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is

Additional advice for parents / carers

  • Set safe search filters and lock this on for a particular desktop computer, laptop or mobile
  • Use parental controls to manage access; mobile operators use network filters which block over 18 content; these are free of charge and are mostly set as ‘on’ by default for all contract and prepay customers
  • Use software filters on computers, laptops and mobiles; most fixed internet service providers offer these free to customers
  • Around one in every 100 / 200 emails can contain malware (a piece of malicious software which takes over a person’s computer) or phishing attacks (attempts to access your personal details, such as usernames and passwords): install reputable antivirus or firewall software on your computer or mobile and make sure you keep this and operating systems up to date
  • As part of a wider discussion about sex and relationships, cover how people may use the internet to explore their sexuality, which may include viewing pornography
  • Ask your child’s school to share their plagiarism rules with you


  • If you come across something which upsets you, tell us as service provider. Talk to an adult you trust, such as a relative or teacher. If you would prefer to talk to someone in confidence you can contact Childline (0800 1111). You can talk to Childline or the Samaritans if you feel sad or desperate, B-eat for eating disorder support and Report-it to report incidents of race hate. You can also report to us if our terms of service have been broken
  • Illegal child sex abuse images online can be reported to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) or your local police
  • You can report fraud or online scams or viruses to Action Fraud - the UK’s national fraud reporting centre
  • Get Safe Online provides advice on how people can use the internet confidently, safely and securely