When you meet someone in person it is easier to be certain that the person you are talking with is who they say they are or is at least the same age and gender as they say. This is more difficult on the internet. It is easy to create a fake profile online.
Children tend to be more naïve and trusting and are more likely to fall prey to strangers posing as children their own age.
Sexual predators frequent chat rooms looking for children to target. They develop a friendship and may spend months "grooming" a child towards sharing information, photographs or meeting up.
Talk to your children about the risks and what to be wary off. Help them to feel comfortable talking to you about their online friends and encourage them to tell you if anyone asks them for photographs or to meet them in person, particularly it you don’t know them or haven’t met them or their parents before.
Report abuse or suspicious activity through the ThinkUKnow website.
If you know about a child who is in immediate danger or risk, call 000 or contact your local police.
There is a lot of material on the Internet that is inappropriate, particularly for children. There are a number of things you can do to help prevent your children inadvertently on intentionally accessing this content.
Internet content filters are a valuable tool for managing your children’s access to online material and activities that you believe are harmful. They can be used to help filter offensive web content and can be individually set for different members of your family. Some internet content filters can set time limits for online use as well as help you monitor the online activities of your children.
While you can use filtering software to restrict the type of websites your children can access, they will not stop everything. Taking an active role in talking with your kids about the risks, answering their questions or concerns and being present will encourage them to come to you if they do come across an inappropriate site.
Having the computer in a common area, like the family room or the kitchen will make it easier for you to monitor their use of the internet without having to be looking over their shoulder.
Report offensive internet content to the ACMA at www.acma.gov.au/hotline, or via the Cybersafety Help button on the Cybersmart website at www.cybersmart.gov.au
Mobile phones and the internet provide an easy and often anonymous way for kids to bully and intimidate other children or to circulate hurtful gossip or embarrassing photos or video. While bullying used to be restricted to contact at school SMS, email, instant messaging and chat rooms can be used to reach children anywhere including at home.
Talk to your children and encourage them to let you know if they feel bullied or intimidated. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away, and there are steps that they can take to address the cyber-bullying. What is most important is that they tell someone.
As in the real world, encourage them not to respond when someone is being aggressive or hurtful online. This can only make it worse.
If someone is posting anything about your child online, especially personal information, contact your Internet Service Provider. Most likely your provider can have the information removed.
Report cyber-bullying to your child’s school. If you have serious concerns for your child’s safety, contact your local police.
Protecting personal information and privacy
If you are allowing your children to communicate with others online talk to them about how important it is that they keep personal information private. Encourage them not to give out their or your e-mail address.
If they have their own email or other online accounts make sure that they have a strong username and password that doesn’t reveal anything personal. For example the user name ‘Katy1998’ could reveal name, gender and age.
Educate your children about managing spam. Encourage them to delete any messages they get from anyone they don’t know.
Ensure your anti-virus and anti-spyware software is up to date.
If your children tell you that they have given out personal information online, contact your Internet Service Provider or the site where the information is posted to see what you can do to have it removed.
Steps for you to protect your children online
Here are some basic steps for you to protect your children online:
block inappropriate content
increase your online security and privacy
set up your computer to only access approved websites and email addresses
monitor where your children go online
Here are some additional steps for you to protect your children online:
explore the internet with your children – consider using safe zones and exploring child-friendly websites. Bookmark websites for them that you have approved
discuss the kinds of sites that are okay to explore, and those that are not. Let your children know that not all websites are suitable and if they encounter a site that makes them feel uncomfortable, they should leave the site immediately, either by clicking on ‘back’ or closing the browser altogether
reassure your children that they won’t be denied access to the internet if they report seeing inappropriate content
monitor and supervise internet use by having the computer in a visible place in your home
for older children, consider tools that filter access to chat rooms and prevent giving out personal information
check to see if your ISP is Family Friendly by looking for a lady bird logo on their website. These ISPs must adhere to the Internet Industry Association codes of practice. They offer information and online tools to help parents and children use the internet in a fun and safe way.