At the FA our approach to safeguarding – and our responsibility to keep children safe – applies to the online environment as much as to the offline world.
We know that teams, clubs, and leagues really benefit from online and digital technology. Whether communicating team results or a change of venue, promoting social events, or sharing coaching tips and skills to encourage and support new volunteers – it helps teams and clubs to run effectively and be better connected.
For clubs to benefit safely from the online environment, it is important they follow best practice in social media and technology use. Club officials, match officials and parents/carers involved in football should understand how their safeguarding responsibilities apply online.
We've shared key FA guidance on this below for clubs, players and parents/carers – as well as signposting to other useful sources of information on all aspects of digital safety and wellbeing. We will continue to share advice and good practice on online safety in our training, guidance and communications.
Safer Internet Day 2022 - Tuesday 8 February
Safer Internet Day is celebrated globally in February each year to promote the safe and positive use of digital technology for children and young people. Its aim is to inspire a national conversation about using technology responsibly, respectfully, critically, and creatively.
This year the campaign theme is ‘All fun and games? Exploring respect and relationships online’.
Find out more about Safer Internet Day 2022. We would encourage you to check out the following useful resources, it doesn’t take long and there is some great information provided.
Guidance from The FA
We have produced a range of guidance to help children and young people stay safe online. It covers football-specific topics relevant to those running clubs and leagues, or supporting young players, as well as more general online safeguarding issues. Our online and digital safety resources are listed below. The first three can all be downloaded at the foot of this page. The others are available in the complete downloads directory of all FA safeguarding guidance notes.
- 6.1 RUNNING WEBSITES OR SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS (FOR CLUBS AND LEAGUES)
- 6.2 DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS AND CHILDREN (FOR ALL)
- 6.3 STAYING SAFE IN THE DIGITAL WORLD (FOR TEENAGERS)
- 7.4 FAKE NEWS: WHAT TO TRUST ONLINE (FOR ALL)
- 8.5 TIPS TO ENSURE YOUR CHILD’S ONLINE SAFETY (FOR PARENTS/CARERS)
- 8.6 GROOMING – THE SIGNS AND STEPS TO TAKE IF YOU’RE WORRIED ABOUT A CHILD (FOR PARENTS/CARERS)
Other expert advice
In addition to the FA’s guidance, there's a wealth of further advice and information from expert organisations where you can read about a range of online issues more widely. Advice targeted at parents/carers or teachers and professionals supporting children and young people online is also really useful for coaches/managers, officials and first-aiders – please take some time to find out more.
Click on the title of each organisation to go to their website.
NSPCC’s online safety hub: Visit NSPCC’s Online Safety Hub for advice and information on a range of different online safety topics including gaming, social media, sharing nudes and parental controls. They also have resources and tips to help you start a conversation with your child about online safety, and links to support if you have any concerns.
Keeping children safe online blog: Parents/carers and professionals can keep up to date with the latest child safety online news on Keeping Children Safe Online blog.
A charity offering information for parents/carers including a parent/carers’ guide to online gaming, how to report concerns and the five things’ teenagers want parents/carers to know. It also offers topics aimed at primary and secondary school children, that are age-appropriate and provides clear definitions, tips and advice.
This CEOP-developed set of resources includes advice and guidance for parents/carers at thinkuknow. It also includes educational materials for teachers and other professionals covering online safety for children aged 4-7, 8-10, 11-13, and 14+. The resources include a variety of educational films.
As well as offering general support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) young people, Young Stonewall offers specific guidance on managing online issues such as cyberbullying.
This charity offers a wide range of advice and guidance on all aspects of internet safety to parents.
A charity promoting children’s safety and security online, SWGfL offers a range of tools and resources for schools and professionals and hosts a helpline for professionals on online safety issues.
A summary of key advice to children
At the FA, we're committed to supporting children and young people manage and navigate the risks of the online environment as well as benefit from its opportunities. Below are just a few key messages you may wish to discuss and share with the children with whom you engage:
| It's okay to tell an adult you trust about any communications that make you feel uncomfortable
Even if they have been made to feel guilty or ashamed, they need to know they are not to blame and they should always seek help. You can also make them aware they can report to CEOP if they prefer, or alternatively they can speak confidentially to ChildLine.
ChildLine – children can chat to ChildLine about any issue that is upsetting them online.
| Think carefully about what you post and share.
|| Remind them that even online communications that feel private or are aimed at one other person can be screenshot or recorded and forwarded to many other users. This can create a digital footprint that is hard to remove.
| Think about the impact on others of unkind comments or content you may share online.
|| Things that are intended to be funny or harmless can cause real distress that may not be obvious or visible. It’s always worth talking to young people about the importance of being kind online.
| Set privacy settings
|| You can find out about privacy settings, blocking and reporting from the links above. Remind the under-18s with whom you engage to use the settings available to block or report anyone who harasses them online or makes them feel unsafe.