Key Information and Policies

The Leathersellers' Federation of Schools Wellbeing Strategy

Social Emotional and Mental Health Support

In the Leathersellers Federation of Schools we aim to:

- provide appropriate support for all students who have Additional Educational Needs;
- to promote an ethos of inclusion
- to enable all students to access the curriculum and achieve their full potential

Providing advice and guidance is an important step in achieving these aims.

There are a small number of students whose needs necessitate additional support from specialist external agencies, many of which can be accessed through referral by your GP. In addition, there is a wide range of skilled support available to students and parents on the internet.

We have information on these pages for a number of support agencies relating to Self Harm, Disordered Patterns Around Eating Habits, Mental Health, Counselling. See Social Emotional and Mental Health Support.

We are also aware that specific recommendations are also helpful and we have included these appropriately.

Self Harm
Self-harm does not always just affect the individuals carrying it out, but also their friends, family and other people around them. Self-harm can be lonely and isolating and caring for someone who self-harms can be emotionally exhausting. There is no single cause or event that leads directly to self-harm, but rather a series of risk factors combine to increase the likelihood that a vulnerable individual will start.

Self-harm is a coping mechanism, therefore it is necessary for the individual to learn about safer alternatives. Students have told us that they find www.kooth.com useful as it is a confidential way of accessing counselling for young people. We provide information about kooth in in our schools.

Our policy is that it is unacceptable for students to self-harm in school; we have a rule that any self-harm marks on arms should be covered by long-sleeved tops for P.E. and that students should not show their cuts to their peers. We are happy to support in any way we can, but we always advise parents and their daughters and sons to see their GP so that they can offer the appropriate advice and referral to meet needs.

Alternatives to Self Harm

Soothing/Stress Relief/Distraction:
  • Going for a walk, looking at things and listening to sounds
  • Create something: drawing, writing, music or sculpture
  • Going to a public place, away from the house
  • Keeping a diary or weblog
  • Stroking or caring for a pet
  • Watching TV or a movie
  • Getting in touch with a friend
  • Listening to soothing music
  • Having a relaxing bath
Releasing emotions:
  • Clenching an ice cube in the hand until it melts
  • Snapping an elastic band against the wrist
  • Drawing on the skin with a red pen or red paint instead of cutting
  • Sports or physical exercise
  • Using a punch-bag
  • Hitting a pillow or other soft object
  • Listening to or creating loud music
Help for Young People
Professional Help:
GPs
School Counsellors
School Nurses
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services - CAMHS*
*Usually through referral by GP or other professional

Helplines and Online Information/Support:

Young Minds
www.youngminds.org.uk

Childline
0800 1111 - www.childline.org

Samaritans
116 123 - www.samaritans.org

Harmless
www.harmless.org.uk

Kooth
www.kooth.com

National Self Harm Network – NSHN
www.nshn.co.uk/

The Site
www.selfharm.org.uk/default.aspa

Help for Parents and Carers
Professional Help:
GPs
School Nurses
Counsellors/Therapists

Helplines and Online Information /Support:

Young Minds
www.youngminds.org.uk
Young Minds Parent Helpline:
0808 802 5544 - Mon-Fri 9.30am-4pm

Samaritans
116 123 - www.samaritans.org

Mind (over 18s only)
www.mind.org.uk

Rethink
www.rethink.org

Harmless
www.harmless.org.uk

Royal College of Psychiatrists
www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/parentsandyoungpeople
/parentscarers/self-harm.aspx

The Maudsley Hospital
www.slam.nhs.uk

Disordered Patterns Around Eating Habits
While rates of clinical eating disorders are low, estimated from 1% to 3% of the general population, more subtle forms of disordered eating are difficult to pinpoint and mare more widespread.  People’s focus on size and weight, diet and exercise means that disordered eating is more widespread; such disordered patterns can also by their nature be episodic. See Social Emotional and Mental Health Support. for further information.

Mental Health
There are a number of organisations and groups that support young people and families who are concerned about mental health issues. See Social Emotional and Mental Health Support. for further information.

Counselling
There are a number of London-based counselling organisations that offer free or low cost counselling for young people and their families. See Social Emotional and Mental Health Support. for further information.

Covid-19 - Wellbeing Support for Parents and Families

Helping Children During Lockdown

See the whole document or jump to the topic below:

8 Ways To Help Children Struggling During Lockdown
Comforting at a Distance
The Emotional Cup
Different Ways Anxiety Presents Itself - The Stress Relief Giraffe
Types of Self-Care
Emergency Care Wall
10 Things To Say Instead of Stop Crying
Online Resources
Structure and Routine
Support Your Child's Wellbeing While Schools Are Closed
Helping Your Child Back to School


Supporting Parents Helpfinder (Young Minds)

Times are tough for many people right now. Parents find themselves pulled in many different direction and children may be struggling being in the house for so much longer than usual.

A mixture of concern about covid, work from home and children at home, along with a possible financial impact make for a stressful household.

Young Minds have created a useful 'Supporting Parents Helpfinder'. By answering six questions, parents can find out how to support their child's mental health during the pandemic (and beyond).

Find the help finder here: https://youngminds.org.uk/supporting-parents-helpfinder/
 



Covid-19 CAMHS Guidance for Parents & Carers

Family Wellbeing - Advice for Children and Families

Internet Safety Support and Advice - Childnet
Guidance about some of the apps and games that young people may be using to stay in touch with each other and to play online.

Mental Wellbeing Primary
Wellbeing advice for all those supporting children and young people.

Mental Wellbeing Secondary
Advice on dealing with school closures and talking to children about Covid-19.

Managing physical symptoms that are triggered by stress and anxiety

It is quite common to experience short-lived physical symptoms when your mood is low or anxious, for example:

  • faster, irregular or more noticeable heartbeat
  • feeling lightheaded and dizzy
  • headaches
  • chest pains or loss of appetite

It can be difficult to know what is causing these symptoms, but often people who experience them due to stress, anxiety or low mood find that they get worse when they focus on them. See advice from the NHS on managing the physical symptoms.

If you are concerned about your physical symptoms, then do contact NHS 111 online.

For advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) and any symptoms see the NHS website.

If you are experiencing stress, feelings of anxiety or low mood, you can use the NHS mental health and wellbeing advice website for self-assessment, audio guides and practical tools Every Mind Matters also provides simple tips and advice to start taking better care of your mental health. If you are still struggling after several weeks and it is affecting your daily life, please contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111.

In a medical emergency call 999. This is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk. A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a physical health emergency.

Wellbeing Advice and Information for Parents and Students

well-being

noun

noun: wellbeing

  1. the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.


Mental Health Week Feb 2022

Children's Mental Health Week (7th - 13th February 2022)

This week is Children’s Mental Health Week. This year's theme is Growing Together.

We’re encouraging children (and adults) to consider how they have grown and how they can help others to grow.  

Free resources can be adapted for use in school, for home-schooling, online lessons or independent learning and can be found here: https://www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk/


Time To Talk Day

Time To Talk Day Thursday 3 February 2022

Mental health problems affect one in four of us, yet too many people are made to feel isolated, ashamed and worthless because of this.  Time to Talk Day encourages everyone to be more open about mental health – to talk, to listen, to change lives. We know that talking about mental health can feel awkward, but it doesn't have to. This time, our theme is 'the power of small' - because a small conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference.  Get involved with Time to Talk Day > 


Mental Health Foundation

Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 will run from Monday 9 May to Sunday 15 May 2022.

The week will explore the experience of loneliness, its effect on our mental health and how we can all play a part in reducing loneliness in our communities and will raise awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental wellbeing and the practical steps we can take to address it.  Reducing loneliness is a major step towards a mentally healthy society.

Further information from the Mental Health Foundation will be available in the run up to the week.


World Mental Health Day

Mental health problems can affect anyone, any day of the year, but World Mental Health Day is a great day to show your support for better mental health and start looking after your own wellbeing.

See more from Mind


Children can find it very difficult to talk about their worries. Whether a parent has a mental health problem now or has in the past, Childline can be contacted 24/7. Calls to 0800 1111 are free and confidential. Children can also contact Childline online.

Other organisations providing support to children and families include:


Mental Health Foundation Podcast - Series 5, Episode One: Kindness Matters to our Mental Health

This episode will bring you information on why kindness matters, how it is central to our mental health and more. We begin the episode by speaking to Josh Elton, who is a Group Facilitator at the Foundation. He talks to us about kindness in later life. She then speaks to Dr. Antonis Kousoulis, Director of England and Wales at the Foundation. Antonis talks to us about what kindness is, how it can have a positive impact on our own & others mental health and how we want kindness to shape the type of society we become after coronavirus (COVID-19).

Listen to the podcast now


You can see latest news from the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families here. June 2020 sees their launch of Early Years in Mind – a learning network for early years professionals during Infant Mental Health Awareness Week. They share new resources including guidance for early years workers about returning to nurseries.
There is also the latest research including the first in their series of emerging evidence on the impact of coronavirus on children and young people, Mentally Healthy Schools’ new Building resilience toolkit, Schools in Mind's Managing unexpected endings guidance and live Q&A’s and new support for young people including the AFC Crisis Messenger text support service.


Useful Apps for Young People


Self Care - Looking After Your Own Mental Health

Diabetes - JDRF School Guide.  A guide to help schools make sure they are equipped with the information needed to understand the condition and safeguard children in school.

Advice from NHS Moodzone Website: If you're stressed, whether by your job or by something more personal, the first step to feeling better is to identify the cause. 

https://www.moodscope.com/  Allows person to track their mood swings and get their friends to help.

Stress Busting Apps from the NHS

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/problemsdisorders.aspx  Lots of really good downloadable leaflets/ help.

http://youth.anxietybc.com  Although a Canadian resource this really helps some pupils.

https://www.helpguide.org/home-pages/mental-health.htm Lots of useful information

https://www.rethink.org/living-with-mental-illness/young-people

https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk//selfhelp.htm

https://www.annafreud.org/on-my-mind/youth-wellbeing/

https://www.annafreud.org/on-my-mind/receiving-support/

https://www.annafreud.org/on-my-mind/helping-someone-else/

Charlie Weller Memorial Trust - Depression can be treated. Talking about it is the first step.

http://www.youngstonewall.org.uk/ Information on the LGBQT community


Helping Children Cope With Change - Top Ten Tips

'Transforming Children & Young People's Mental Health Provision' (An overview of The Green Paper)

Mental Health Awareness Week May 2018

Who's who in Wellbeing

Social Emotional and Mental Health Support

Lewisham Services for Children & Families

Supporting Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools

Supporting Mental Health and Wellbeing in Secondary Schools

Talking Mental Health - Secondary Parents Leaflet

Mental Health - Handy Apps and Websites

https://www.place2be.org.uk/what-we-do/supporting-schools/secondary-schools.aspx


Child in Mind is a series of podcasts aimed to help parents and carers understand and manage child and family mental health problems.

YoungMinds Vs Stress - An online movement to combat school stress. See information at YoungMinds - Coping with Stress

What is an Eating Disorder and When to Worry

Talking Treatments - What are they used for, what happens during therapy and how to find a therapist. Find out below.
What are Talking Treatments  Making Sense of Talking Treatments

Recognising Self Harm and How to Manage It - Useful Information for Young People, Parents and Teachers.
YoungMinds - Your Guide to Self Harm
Self Harm - What Young People Say
YoungMinds - No Harm Done Young People's Pack
YoungMinds - No Harm Done Professional's Pack
Self Harm - Having the first conversation

Family Action is a national charity with a local focus, delivering services from local offices across the country. https://www.family-action.org.uk/what-we-do/; Family Action - Digital Parent Support Service

The HUB. The Hub Lifeline

Lewisham provides support to individuals aged 11-25 years who are experiencing issues with substance misuse in Lewisham.
020 8690 3020

MindEd Hub. A free educational resource on children and young people's mental health for all adults. https://www.minded.org.uk/

Agnes for Girls. A recommended not for profit website with lots of advice, support, guidance and links to other sources of information and inspiration. https://agnesforgirls.com/

Handy Apps
- SuperBetter - Increasing resilience https://www.superbetter.com/
- MindShift - An app designed to help teens and young adults cope with anxiety https://www.anxietybc.com/resources/mindshift-app
- Stop, Breathe & Think - Creating Calm and Peace. This app helps you do just that. https://app.stopbreathethink.org/
- Smiling Mind - a web/app-based program to help bring balance to people’s lives. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.smilingmind.app&hl
- HeadSpace - Mediation and Mindfulness Made Simple. https://www.headspace.com/
-
 Calm
- Recolor
- Meetwo
- Stop panic anxiety
- Antistress
- Breathe to relax
- Calm harm

Child Mental Health

When emotions explode (Young Minds)

Young Minds have created a useful poster highlighting ways to give support to children when they have angry feelings or outbursts and may help families start a conversation and talk about each other’s feelings.When emotions explode poster
 



Children's Mental Health Week (1st - 7th February 2021)

This week is Children's Mental Health Week. This year’s theme is 'Express Yourself'. Organisers, Place2Be, say that this is 'not about being the best at something or putting on a performance for others. It is about finding a way to show who you are, and how you see the world, that can help you feel good about yourself'.

Free resources can be adapted for use in school, for home-schooling, online lessons or independent learning and can be found here: https://www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk/


Recognising the signs that a child may be struggling with their mental health can be really hard. The NSPCC has advice to help you support children who may be experiencing depression, anxiety, suicidal feelings or self-harm.

If you are worried about a child or young person, you can contact the NSPCC helpline for support and advice for free - call us on 0808 800 5000 or contact us online.

Children can contact Childline any time to get support themselves.

Get support


Guidance for parents and carers from CAMHS - Covid-19.


Parental Mental Illness Research Magazine Special Edition (Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health)

The ACAMH recently published a special edition of their research-based magazine looking at the impact of children who live with parental mental ill-health.

New data published in Lancet Public Health show that nearly a quarter of children aged between 0 and 16 years are exposed to maternal mental illness. Researchers defined this as depression, anxiety, psychosis, eating disorders, personality disorders and alcohol misuse disorder or substance misuse disorder.

The author of one study, Matthias Pierce, found that affected children "are more likely to suffer from a range of negative life outcomes, including poorer physical and mental health, lower educational attainment and reduced quality of life".

A large number of studies have shown that exposure to maternal depression is a key risk factor for adolescent depression, but comparatively fewer studies investigated the influence of paternal depression on children and adolescents. One study found that paternal depression symptoms were significantly associated with depression symptoms in adolescents.

You can read the online pdf version of the magazine here: https://www.acamh.org/app/uploads/2019/10/The-Bridge-Web-Version.pdf


 

World Suicide Prevention Day is an important reminder that everyone can make a difference to others who have reached the point of wanting to end their lives.

A short conversation with another person can sometimes be enough to make a difference.

The acronym ‘WAIT’ is one good way to remember how you can support another person who may be suicidal. It stands for:

Watch out for signs of distress and uncharacteristic behaviour
e.g. social withdrawal, excessive quietness, irritability, uncharacteristic outburst, talking about death or suicide

Ask “are you having suicidal thoughts?”
Asking about suicide does not encourage it, nor does it lead a person to start thinking about it; in fact it may help prevent it, and can start a potentially life-saving conversation

It will pass. Assure your loved one that, with help, their suicidal feelings will pass with time

Talk to others. Encourage your loved one to seek help from a GP or health professional

Don't forget to look after your own wellbeing after having a difficult conversation. You can call Samaritans for free, at any time (24/7) on 116 123. They are there to listen to you. You can also email jo@samaritans.org

If you yourself are feeling like ending your life, please call 999 or go to A&E and ask for the contact of the nearest crisis resolution team. These are teams of mental health care professionals who work with people in severe distress.

Suicide Prevention

If you Need Help with Child Mental Health

Local Help

Your GP
They will be able to provide help and advice. Your GP can also provide access to appropriate specialist services and local organisations.

Call 111
You can call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Calls are free from landlines and mobile phones.

NHS Mental Health Services
Find local mental health services on the NHS website. http://www.nhs.uk

Local organisations
They provide a range of services including support groups, help lines and information. Details can be obtained from your GP, your local library, or the internet.

National Help

Childline Free 24-hour counselling service for children and young people up to their 19th birthday.
Tel: 0800 1111  https://www.childline.org.uk

Mind-Infoline Offers advice and support to service users; has a network of local associations in England and Wales to which people can turn for help. Tel: 0300 123 3393, text number: 86463  http://www.mind.org.uk

SANE Provides practical help, emotional support and specialist information for people aged 16 and over with mental health problems, their family, friends and carers. Tel: 0300 304 7000  www.sane.org.uk

Supportline Confidential telephone helpline offering emotional support to any individual on any issue.
Tel: 01708 765200  www.supportline.org.uk

Beat Provides helplines, self-help groups and online support to anyone affected by eating disorders. www.b-eat.co.uk
Helpline: 0808 801 0677 (Tel)
Youthline: 0808 801 0711 (Tel)
Studentline: 0808 801 0811 (Tel)

The Samaritans The Samaritans provide a confidential service for people in despair and who feel suicidal.
Tel: 116 123  www.samaritans.org.uk

NSPCC Provides helplines and information on child abuse, child protection and safeguarding children.
Tel: 0808 800 5000  https://www.nspcc.org.uk/

YoungMinds has a Parent Helpline that offers free confidential telephone and email support to any adult worried about the wellbeing of a child or young person. Tel: 0808 802 5544  http://www.youngminds.org.uk/for_parents

Youth Wellbeing Directory Helps you find support for mental health and wellbeing of young people up to age 25 across the UK.  https://www.annafreud.org/on-my-mind/youth-wellbeing/

HaveIGotAProblem.com Free resource about mental health and addiction issues. It has advice and documents on issues including depression, anxiety, self-harm, bipolar, eating disorders and coping.  http://www.haveigotaproblem.com/

Helplines partnership Provides a comprehensive list of mental health helplines in the UK.  https://helplines.org/helplines/

Mental Health Foundation This website offers a wide range of information about mental health issues.
http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk

Health Talk Online Aims to provide balanced information about the experience of everyday life with a range of health conditions and issues, what to expect both physically and mentally, overcoming practical difficulties, making decisions about treatment and talking to health professionals.  http://www.healthtalk.org/

YouthinMind is an online resource for information about mental health and offers brief assessments. It also provides links to other useful books, websites and services. http://youthinmind.info/py/yiminfo/

E-Safety and Staying Safe Online

Safer Internet Day
Safer Internet Day - Tuesday 9th February 2021

The theme for this year's internet safety day is 'An internet we trust: exploring reliability in the online world'. The internet has an amazing range of information and opportunities online, but how do we separate fact from fiction?

All the resources you need can be found here: https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/safer-internet-day/2021

Take the Safer Internet Day Quiz! This quiz is designed for 8-13 year olds, but can be played by anyone!


As a parent or carer, trying to understand your child’s online life can sometimes feel daunting. That is why Childnet International's educational experts have created some hot topics with advice on how to handle some of the biggest issues young people face online.

Digital safety in the holidays


Internet Safety Guides for Parents
YouTube Parents Guide
WhatsApp Parents Guide
Snapchat Parents Guide

Child Safety on Fortnite - Parent Fact Sheet
Fortnite is a popular online video game. The recommended age to play is 12 and above.


Common Sense Media have produced a range of What is…? Video introductions for the most popular social media Apps for young people. They are all short and explain the core functions of the app but also how the apps present safeguarding risks.    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1YCGfBa9BUbMbVoA4XSOsR5BK7u-uTLC


Staying safe online in the summer holidays
Children and young people across the UK have more free time to spend with friends and family as summer holidays get into full swing.  For many young people this time will be spent using the internet to keep in touch with school friends, catch up with the latest apps and online trends, and play their favourite games. Read advice for parents and carers - staying safe online in the summer holidays


Childnet is a key Internet Safety Site with lots of advice for parents and children. The Childnet Film Competition 2018 invited schools and youth organisations from across the UK to capture their internet safety messages in a short film. This year, the film competition invited young people to think about how we can all make a positive difference online by supporting young people to ‘Connect with respect’.

The Film Competition 2018 was the biggest one yet, with over 200 entries from schools, colleges and youth groups across the UK. The films were judged by Lisa Prime Children’s Events Programmer at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), Catherine McAllister Head of Safeguarding and Child Protection BBC Children’s, David Austin OBE Chief Executive at the BBFC, and Joanna van der Meer Film Tutor and Family Learning Programmer at BFI Southbank.

https://www.childnet.com/resources/film-competition/2018


Grooming or Other Illegal Behaviour

If you want to report someone who is behaving suspiciously online towards a child, you should in an emergency contact the emergency services by calling 999, or otherwise make a report to Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre (CEOP). See www.ceop.gov.uk.

Criminal Content Online

If you stumble across criminal content online, you should report this to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) at www.iwf.org.uk/report. Criminal content in the UK includes child sexual abuse images, criminally obscene adult content as well as non-photographic child sexual abuse images.

On-line content which incites hatred on the grounds of race, religion and sexual orientation should be reported to True Vision, which tackles all forms of hate crime, including those on the grounds of disability and transgender identity. True Vision, at www.report-it.org.uk, will give you information on content which incites hatred and how to report it.

Scams

If you have been ‘scammed, ripped off or conned’ you can report to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or www.actionfraud.police.uk. This service is run by the National Fraud Authority, the UK’s government agency that helps coordinate the fight against fraud.


Getting Help/Advice: For Young People

ChildLine: Is a free 24/7 helpline for children and young people. Visit www.childline.org.uk  or call 0800 1111. ChildLine is run by the NSPCC.

Getting Help/Advice: For Parents

If you want to make a complaint about an advert, television or radio programme, film, newspaper, magazine, video game or other type of content that you think is unsuitable for children to see or hear, you can report it through ParentPort at www.parentport.org.uk.  Click on ‘Make a Complaint’ and ParentPort will take you straight to the right place to complain to.

  • Family Lives: A charity providing help and support in all aspects of family life. They have a 24/7 free Parentline on 0808 8002222, or visit www.familylives.org.uk
  • Kidscape: Is a leading anti-bullying charity, which provides a helpline for parents of children who have been bullied. From 10am to 8pm, on 08451 205204 www.kidscape.org.uk.
  • Childnet International Is a non-profit organisation working to help make the internet a safe place for children. ‘We strive to take a balanced approach, making sure that we promote the positive opportunities, as well as responding to the risks and equipping children and young people to deal with them’. Contact details are: www.childnet.com phone 020 7639 6967, email info@childnet.com.
  • UK council for child internet safety (UKCCIS) has practical guides to help parents and others with internet safety www.gov.uk/government/groups/uk-council-for-child-internet-safety-ukccis.
  • Thinkuknow has a section for parents which offers advice on protecting children from abuse online offered by the National Crime Agency’s CEOP Command www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents.

For parents concerned that their children may be becoming radicalised online the DFE has set up a telephone helpline (0207 340 7264) and an email address (counter.extremism@education.gsi.gov.uk) to enable people to raise concerns directly with them.

Getting Help/Advice: For Professionals Working with Children

Professionals Online Safety Helpline: Helpline operated by the UK Safer Internet Centre offering professionals who work with children across the UK support, advice and mediation with on-line safety issues www.saferinternet.org.uk. The helpline can be contacted by email: helpline@saferinternet.org.uk or telephone on 0844 3814772 (calls on this number are charged at local call rate).


Age Restrictions on Social Media Services

http://www.childnet.com/blog/age-restrictions-on-social-media-services?

WhatsApp have announced a new age limit of 16 for users based in Europe. With the upcoming changes to Data Protection rules in the EU, this blog looks at what age restrictions are in place across the most popular social media services, why they exist and what our advice is for parents and young people.

Which Social Media Services Are Age Restricted?
WhatsApp have just announced a change to their terms and conditions for users based in Europe. Users will now need to be 16 to use WhatsApp.

Nearly all other social media services require users to be at least 13 years of age to access and use their services. This includes Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Musical.ly and Skype.

Whilst there is no age restriction for watching videos on YouTube, users need to be 13 or older to have their own YouTube account (enabling them to subscribe to other channels, like videos, post comments, share their own content and flag inappropriate content).

Why Do These Restrictions Exist?
The reason most social media services use an age limit of 13 or over is in part because of a law in the USA. The COPPA law or Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act states that any organisations or people operating online services (including social media services) are not allowed to collect the personal information of anyone under the age of 13 without parental permission.

To avoid the necessity of obtaining parental permission for any user under the age of 13, most services have instead chosen to place an age restriction of 13 to their services. They write this rule into their Terms and Conditions – which users must agree to when they initially sign up and some services may ask users to declare their age during sign up.

WhatsApp’s new age limit has been chosen in response to the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect from the 25th May 2018 and will only apply in the European region, and not elsewhere (e.g. the USA).

Users, and the parents of users, should expect to see more communications from companies and others over the coming weeks as they work to ensure that they are complying with the new General Data Protection Regulation.

What Do We Advise?
Whilst COPPA and GDPR exist to protect the personal information of children, there are also other elements of social media use which may not be appropriate for young users. Our Hot Topic for parents and carers provides more detail and guidance on these risks.

Our advice with regards to age restrictions is that it’s always better to wait until the required age to join any social media service. These rules around age relate to privacy, but also are relevant to safety. Some services offer additional protection for users who are registered as under 18, and by supplying a fake age young people can potentially lose some of this protection. Young people also risk being exposed to content which is intended for older users when they use sites that are not designed for people their age.

Additionally, if a service finds out a user is underage then they may delete the user’s account and any content which has been shared.

We know that social media services are popular with young people of all ages. Parents have an important role in helping prepare their children to go online before they start to use social media platforms. Together you can look at the key things they need to know about staying safe online, critical thinking, and the safety settings that are available to them.

When looking at creating a profile online with your child, have a discussion as a family and make this decision together – talk about why they want the account and ensure that any family members using social media know what tools are available to help them stay safe. You may want to use our family agreement to support with this.


Good Sources of Information and Useful Links for Parents About Online Safety