Safeguarding in the digital world

Safeguarding in the digital world

Play safe - Online 

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.

Supporting Safer Internet Day 2024 – Tuesday 6th February

Every February, The FA is pleased to support Safer Internet Day (SID). The day aims to raise awareness of a safer and better internet for all, especially children and young people.

This year’s theme is ‘Together for a better internet’ and we’re promoting three key messages:

1. Children/young people: Be kind, respectful and protect your online presence/activity. 

2. Parents/carers: Support your child(ren) to use technology responsibly and respectfully, whether via open dialogue, educating or explaining your own use of the internet as a role model.  

3. Everyone: Be kind and respectful to others, respond to the negative by reporting inappropriate or illegal content and behaviour online.

We are asking parents/carers to:

Encourage conversations about online safety with your child(ren).
Review/discuss your child(ren)’s privacy settings.
Check that your child(ren) know how to report concerns they may have.
Ensure you know your club’s social media protocol(s).
Check out the SID parents/carers’ resources – they cover a wide range of topics and are age-related so ideal to support conversations with your child(ren) e.g., setting up parental controls, AI, awareness of grooming, safety on TikTok/Instagram, parent/carer top tips and more.

Clubs/leagues are encouraged to support SID 2024 by:

Communicating your support for SID 2024 on your website/social media channels. 
Re-sharing your social media protocol(s) with all parents/carers.
Ensuring your reporting process for online concerns is clear and visible.
Pledging your support for SID 2024 on the SID website here. 

Head of Safeguarding Sue Ravenlaw comments: “As our Play Safe campaign emphasises, safeguarding applies to everyone, everywhere, every time – including in the digital space. Technology plays a huge part in today’s football, whether it’s organising matches, communicating with players – or just for fun. 

“Safer Internet Day is an opportunity for us all to reflect on our use of social media and the internet generally. This includes clubs having and communicating protocols for the use of social media. It also means parents and carers ensuring they are aware of their child’s online activity, and feeling confident enough to talk to their child about online safety. You can read more about the measures and guidance notes we have in place for keeping safe in the digital world here.”

You can read more about Safer Internet Day 2024 here

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.


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.

CEOP Education

The National Crime Agency’s CEOP Education team (NCA-CEOP) aims to protect children and young people from the threat of online child sexual abuse.
They do this through the CEOP Education programme which provides training, resources and information for young people, their families and professionals who work with them. 
The CEOP Education programme aims to:
• Increase professionals knowledge of online child sexual abuse and how to respond to it – through education and safeguarding.
• Increase children’s knowledge, skills and resilience, making them safer online and ensuring they know how to seek help when they need it.
• Give parents and carers the knowledge and skills to help their children be safer online and know how to seek help when they need it.

Young Stonewall

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.

Internet Matters

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:


Helpful background

It’s ok 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.

  • CEOP
  • 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.