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As we continue to live our lives heavily immersed in the digital world, it’s critical to consider online safety and associated risks, as well as the long term implications of our actions.

The manner in which people interact online can have significant effects on others and our future. This not only applies to us, but also our children and their safety and wellbeing.

There are several aspects of online safety to consider when working to keep kids safe, so to save you the guesswork, we delve into some of the major issues that may arise, and how to best handle them. 


If a child is humiliated, harassed, intimidated or threatened online, that’s cyberbullying. It can take on many forms, use a range of devices and be across a variety of platforms. It can involve abusive messages, hurtful images or videos, nasty gossip, exclusion or humiliation, trolling, or even fake accounts to trick or humiliate them.

For our younger generations this can be detrimental to their development and mental health, especially for those strongly attached to their online identity. 

So what can you do if your child is being cyberbullied? It’s key to stay calm and not punish your child by removing their device access. This may further alienate them and keep them from learning resilience. Try to create an open dialogue without judgement or anger, listen to the situation and gauge its severity.

If you deem it severe and your child is distressed by it, seek professional help. This may be from counsellors, school staff or even emergency services. It’s also important to collect evidence – bullying behaviour is unacceptable and it’s important for the bully to be held accountable. Finally, it’s important to empower your child to rebuild confidence, connection and security.

Sending Nudes and Sexting

Sharing intimate photos, videos and messages may be innocent at the time, but it can have both legal and social consequences for the sender and receiver of the content. These can be used as sexual extortion, be shared without consent and end up in the hands of unsavoury characters. This is all now known as image-based abuse – and it is never ok. 

Research shows that almost 1 in 3 teens aged 14 – 17 in Australia have experienced sending, sharing or being asked to share nudes. It is therefore imperative to be open and communicative with your child. Being approachable means that if they’re ever faced with such a proposition, they’re more likely to come to you for advice or share their concerns if something goes amiss.

If your child has been a victim of image-based abuse, there’s a few things you can do. The first step is to ask for it to be deleted by the person who shared it, followed by reporting it on the platform that it’s on. If this is to no avail, police may need to become involved, along with counselling and support services. You can also reach out to the eSafety Commissioner to further explore options for prosecution and support. 

The production or distribution of content with children under the age of 18 can be deemed as child pornography, and creating, possessing or sharing nude images of minors may be a criminal act. This also includes if collected as evidence, so be mindful of the law. Image-based abuse is wrong no matter the age, so it’s key to educate our children on the risks of participating in sending nudes, videos, and sexting, and how that content can be manipulated against them.

Inappropriate Contact and Grooming

Inappropriate contact online is not uncommon, and as adults much of it can be ignored, blocked, or brushed off. However children can become targets for some who are looking to exploit and groom them. 

There are some precautions you can take as a parent to reduce the risk. Begin with making their accounts private and customising settings, this will provide more control on who has access to them and the content they share. Follow that up with removing contacts that they don’t really know – it’s likely we could all benefit from this exercise. Although this doesn’t guarantee to cut contact from outsiders, it sets a good precedent for their future online presence.

When it comes to grooming, it’s more than persistence, it’s the development of trust and a sort of relationship. This can be initiated through casual online interactions, with perpetrators making themselves appear relatable and understanding while gathering information. This information can then be used to alienate, manipulate and coerce them, be it for more information or inappropriate images. 

It’s always recommended to have an open dialogue with your children. Communicate to them that it’s important to delete and block people that attempt to make inappropriate contact, and to keep you in the loop if any unfavourable interactions persist. This goes for both strangers and people they may know. Some perpetrators will pretend to be someone they know, or actually be a person that they know. 

If you have a situation arise, be sure to cut contact immediately, report the account and reach out to the authorities if your child’s physical safety is at risk. It’s also important to share with your child that this can happen to anyone, including adults.

Digital Reputation

Everything we do online is online permanently, and even as adults we need a reminder at times. This also goes for any tagged photos, blog posts and social media interactions that occur showing your likes and participation. 

Despite social media and the online world still being a relatively new space for us, many people will utilise it and search others to see what comes up. It is therefore imperative that the publicity of online interactions are always taken into consideration, as they all contribute to one’s digital reputation. This goes for parents sharing content of their children too, so always be mindful of any possible future implications. 

If you’re concerned about what’s out there about yourself or your children, and to check the efficacy of privacy settings, search their name and see what comes up. This will show you what apps or sites may be sharing more than you know.

There’s a range of resources available for the whole family to help with online safety.

  • Online Safety – Scams, SPAM, Viruses and Clouds by A. M. Perry – This guide book has been compiled by the local and online community in an attempt to answer questions about scams, spam, and clouds.
  • Finn Goes Online App – Cybersecurity for Children teaches about online safety, including password security, cyberbullying, and staying safe online. It is aimed at kids aged seven and above.
  • Google Family Link App – Provides easy access to content filtering settings in Google apps like Search, Chrome and YouTube.
  • – Expert support and practical tips to help children benefit from connected technology and the internet safely and smartly.

To find out more on how to handle tricky online situations and ensure your kids stay safe online, check out eSafety Commissioner. It provides a multitude of resources for both parents and children living in this digital age.