Brain Injury Care Provider

Why do we need to keep young people with SEND safe online?

For many children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), the internet can offer a safe space to meet like-minded people. However, the ‘unwritten rules’ of social media can be particularly hard for children with neurodiversity to navigate.

Keeping any child safe online should always be a priority, but children with SEND often need more careful consideration.

The common dangers

For anyone new to the internet, it is full of dangers. Social media in particular can pose a whole host of challenges for young people with SEND, including:

  • Cyberbullying
  • Invasions of privacy
  • Identity theft
  • Offensive images and content
  • Fake news and misinformation

These can be particularly distressing for children and young people who are not expecting it.

Why do SEND children need extra support?

Children with SEND can sometimes struggle with social norms and expectations. Whilst they may have got to grips with real-life interactions, the internet has completely different unspoken rules and expectations.

This means that common dangers such as cyberbullying or someone pretending to be someone that they’re not can be particularly distressing, confusing, and overwhelming for children with SEND.

Moreover, misinformation and fake news can be harder for them to identify. With the advancement of AI in developing realistic images, educating children on how to discern fantasy and reality is vital.

As well as the previously mentioned dangers, SEND children are more likely to struggle with social norms that are on social media. Helping them through this can not only reduce their stress but help open up a safe environment for them.

What should we implement?

The first step in ensuring online safety for children with SEND should be education.

Not only should this be educating them about what the dangers are, but also how to spot them and what to do should they be in uncomfortable situations.

Giving children the tools to report and block abusive or harmful accounts and content can give them the power to protect themselves.

It is also best practice to work alongside parents to establish a safe network of adults that children can turn to should they feel unsafe online. Creating an open and comfortable environment that children feel safe to turn to is vital in ensuring their online safety.

For younger children, you should guide parents and carers towards parental controls that can help limit adult content that children will have access to.

The approach we take

At Almond Care Children’s Services, we work alongside parents and carers to guide the online safety of their children.

Our in-house therapists are always available to help children with SEND who may have encountered distressing content or just need a helping hand adapting to the confusing landscape of social media.

We also factor children’s online activity into our care plans, acknowledging that for many children with SEND it can offer a safe space to find like-minded people and community.

If you would like more guidance about how to keep children with SEND safe online, please get in touch.


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For a free, no-obligation discussion about our UK complex care in the home for brain injury, spinal cord injury, long-term ventilation, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and other neurological conditions, please click here or call 024 7610 2333.