U - Using online safety and wellbeing tools

Using online safety and wellbeing tools

This activity is all about using safety and wellbeing tools to help your child use their phone safely and build healthy digital habits. You’ll explore the different tools, controls and safety settings you can use on the phone itself, as well as in different apps and games.

Safety features

To get started, take it in turns to pick a safety feature below and have a go at describing what it might do and where you could find it. 

Content filters can help you to control certain words or phrases you see and hear online. Most apps and search engines allow you to set up content filters that block certain topics and individual words. This can help you avoid seeing harmful content.

With all the different ways you can use a phone, it’s very easy to spend lots of time using your phone without realising it. Screentime limits can help you to manage time on your phone and is something the whole family can benefit from!

Blocking people means they can’t contact you or see your activity. Muting people means that they’ll stop appearing on your screen or feed. Unlike blocking, muting means you can still see each other's profiles. Muting and blocking features can be a great way to manage unwanted contact.

In-app reporting features can help you to get support when you see or hear something you don’t like while using an app. Most apps have a reporting function which lets you send a report when something upsetting has happened. It is a good idea to make sure that you only use apps that have a reporting function. 

Apps often have the option to keep your location setting switched on, which means other people can see where you are when using your phone. Switching these off makes sure people can’t see where you are when you’re online. It is important to make sure that these are not on by default and talk together about the importance of not sharing your location with others.

Once you’ve found all these tools, agree together which ones you are going to use on your phone and how you will use them. Make a note of these – you can use these to help you make your pledge later.

Content filters

What kind of words and phrases might be good to filter out?

Screentime limits

How might this help you to build healthy digital habits with your phone?

Muting and blocking features

In what situation might you want to mute or block somebody?

In-app reporting features

What kinds of things would it be a good idea to report?

Location settings

What would be a sensible rule to have about your location settings?


The content we see online is often determined by algorithms. While these algorithms can show us things we normally look at, sometimes they show us content we haven't deliberately sought out - like popular videos or different random topics - to see if we might be interested. This means that sometimes harmful, upsetting or misleading content can be shown. If your child tells you about suggested content that worries them, it’s important to understand and acknowledge that this doesn't mean they've searched for it. You can use filters on most apps to try and make sure that certain types of content are not suggested.

For parents

Safety and wellbeing tools can help your child develop healthy digital habits, stay safe, and help you feel more confident too. Vodafone has lots of tools and advice to help you set up your child’s first phone. Find out more in our Digital Parenting Pro resource guide

There are also other tools you can use to help your child stay safe on their phone:

  • Family networks - if you’re not with Vodafone, many other mobile networks have tools to help you monitor your child’s phone use, and manage it remotely. Check with your provider.

  • Home Wi-Fi and search engine filters

  • In-app purchase settings

  • Restrictions on chat functions in apps or games

For more information about online wellbeing, the NSPCC has advice and activities to help you and your family be positive online

Now you know what these tools do, find them on your phone or on another family member’s device and work out together how to use them. Make a note of them as they’ll help you with your family pledge at the end. Discover how your child can enjoy their phone safely with Vodafone’s Digital Parenting Pro resource.

Now you’ve completed U together, it’s time to move on to S - Support when facing challenges online.

Frequently asked questions

Online safety tools can help put limits on what your child sees and does when using devices, so they have a safer and more positive experience when using their phone. Using content filters, muting or blocking features, screentime limits, in-app reporting features and location settings can all help your child set healthy digital habits, and help parents and carers feel more confident.

How much you or your children use your phones a day is a personal choice and can form part of a wider conversation on phone usage as a family. Screen time apps can help limit or make you aware of how much time you’re spending on your phone, and when it’s time to take a break.

Check out the NSPCC’s advice on online wellbeing for more information.

Mobile and wearable tech such as phones and smart watches can make us feel like we’re always online and it can help everyone to take a break sometimes, to help switch off from online pressures. 

You can use app or device settings to silence notifications, or use the 'do not disturb' mode available on most devices to mute calls and notifications.  

Check out the NSPCC’s advice on online wellbeing for more information.