These days the internet is accessible from practically anywhere with an increasing social element on Apps, forums and games. There is a world of information at your fingertips, but this information is also available to others.
Sadly the information you share online can sometimes make you vulnerable to predators who may be looking to take advantage of unsuspecting people on the internet. Being aware of the possible dangers is one step to staying safe online but we have also provided a list of tips and internet safety resources below to help maintain your family’s privacy and security.
What is Safer Internet Day?
Safer Internet Day is a worldwide event that raises awareness about online safety and encourages everyone to help create a better internet. The key theme of the day is “Together for a better internet”.
It is estimated that there are over 20 million internet users in Australia, with 93% of us accessing the internet every day. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 2016, 97% of households with children aged under 15 years have access to the internet, with an average number of seven devices per household. But it is not only young people that are vulnerable to internet safety concerns.
Many older Australians are targeted through online scams. It is reported by The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Scamwatch website that the top three scams with largest amounts lost are investments scams, followed by dating and romance fraud and false billing scams.
So how can you keep yourself, your loved ones safe on the internet? How can you ensure your children are not contributing to online behaviours that are not appropriate?
Social media and App usage
There are many well-known social media platforms and Apps that children can access without knowing the full extent to how open they may be to other people conducting inappropriate behaviour.
Each social media site and App has its own criteria for minimum age requirements. Most require users to be at least 13 years of age before they can register, although some sites are created especially for children under 13.
While online safety is important for protecting children and young people from dangerous and inappropriate websites and materials, this does not mean that we should discourage the use of digital technology. It is always advisable to have open and honest conversations around safe internet use with youngsters and give them the tools and steps they can take to identify and deal with risks.
Risks associated with internet safety can pose risks to those that are not aware that someone else may be trying to take advantage of them. Risks can include:
- Privacy and information sharing
- Digital footprint
- Online grooming and sexual abuse
- Exposure to pornographic or violent materials
Top tips for parents
Get to know the online world: Check out different Apps and sites you hear your children talking about and make yourself familiar with them and the different ways in which your children can connect with other people on them. You can then have open and frank conversations about how they can keep themselves safe.
Have an open door policy in your home: Online activities should have some level of supervision. So whether that be no use behind closed doors or ensuring all online activity is out in the open areas of the home.
Get savvy with parental controls: Implementing parental controls over devices and searches can help eliminate unwanted information and images being seen.
Keep their friends close: Knowing who your children are talking to is important. You should show interest in who your children are speaking with online and ensure they are equipped to handle situations where they don’t trust the person they are speaking with. Be sure to friend your child on their online profiles and Apps so you can keep an eye on their activities and pick up when things are “not quite right”.
Privacy is key: Be sure to teach your children how they share information and how they can potentially open themselves up for trouble unknowingly. Teach your child to stay in control of their digital footprint, by only sharing with people who they know and trust.
Stranger danger: From an early age children are taught about stranger danger and associated risks. Online communications shouldn’t be any different, be sure to talk with your children about the dangers of meeting people face-to-face that they have been communicating with online – they may not be who they presented themselves as.
Safer internet day resources
There are a lot of different resources available online to learn more about online safety for both children and parents, where you can report online abuse and counselling services.
- eSafety Commissioner You can report online abuse via the eSafety Commissioner website.
- eSafety Commissioner Has a lot of useful resources and online help options on their website.
- If you are school-aged you can speak with your school guidance counsellor
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: February 10, 2020.