Online messaging and chat are popular ways for children and young people to communicate. There are several things you can discuss with children to help keep them safe. With the rise in popularity of messaging apps and digital communication, young people often keep in touch online. It is common to worry about their safety, but by setting boundaries and expectations, you can help to guide their use.
Do research and create your own account
It can help with conversations if you are familiar with the program or app that you want to discuss. It can also help in giving advice to children. The Office of the eSafety Commissioner has a guide on age restrictions and privacy tools that games, applications or websites might have.
- Find out the age restrictions for the sites and applications your child wants to use.
- Find out how to block unwanted users. You can then talk to your child about how to do so. If you think your child may already know how, you can ask them to show you, and learn from them.
- Depending on the age of your child, set up your own accounts and ‘friend’ your child. By doing this, you can understand how the site’s privacy settings work, see what your child posts online and how your child responds to posts made by others.
Discuss personal information
Conversations about personal information are important to keeping children safe. You can discuss the following:
- Tell your child not to share their passwords with others.
- Remind your child to only give their mobile number or personal information to trusted friends.
- Make sure that your child’s account settings are set to ‘private’ to control who sees their information.
- Remind your child to think carefully before they post comments, or upload or send images online.
Talk about what to do if something goes wrong
It is important to keep communications and discussions open and honest. Talk about what they do when on the internet. You can also use this as a chance to encourage good behaviours and remind them of actions they can take.
- Remind your child to tell a trusted adult if they are bullied online.
- Talk with your child and understand the ways in which they are using the internet and their mobile phone.
- Encourage your child to only be friends online with people they know in day-to-day life.
Digital citizenship expert Dr Talitha Kingsmill recommends having a CPR plan in place:
- CONTACT the social media platform, school, eSafety Commissioner or police.
- PROVIDE evidence of the issue.
- REVIEW your practice/actions for next time.