Is there a predator under your Christmas tree?

20 December 2019





Leading Child Protection organisation, Act for Kids, is warning parents of the risks in giving children digital devices such as online gaming consoles, smart watches, and iPhones this Christmas.

Act for Kids Executive Director of Service Development Stephen Beckett is urging Australians to be safe when choosing tech gifts for children and young people.

“Technology is very popular and on most children’s wish lists – with smartphones, gaming consoles, and smart toys likely to be highly sought after.”

“We want kids to enjoy their presents, however some really harmful content can be accessed on the internet, so it is important that parents protect their children online this Christmas,” he said.

“As technology is evolving at such a fast pace, parents are struggling to keep up.”

Around 98% of children under 10 already use smart devices, with many left exposed to online predators who use digital channels to groom their victims.

“We are also hearing from concerned parents about how easy it is for children to access pornography and violent content.”

Our research reveals that 78% of Australians blame online content for encouraging inappropriate sexual behaviours among children, that’s why we need parents to heed the warning and take the necessary precautions to protect their children online.

Worryingly 55% of parents allow young children online without any adult supervision.

“Unsupervised children could be talking to, or even unknowingly sharing photos with predators.”

Act for Kids is encouraging parents to follow three simple steps to keep their kids safe this Christmas – secure, supervise and sit down.

  1. Secure household devices by setting passcodes and age appropriate restrictions. Includes smart fridges and watches, gaming consoles and even your Google Home. Check who has the ability to share material with your child, for example via Airdrop.
  2. Supervise children online and monitor the material they are accessing. Identify specific locations for internet use within the home; keeping devices in a shared family area. Regularly check their privacy settings and internet search limitations as well as yours. Limit daily screen time and establish what may be identified as inappropriate posts on online profiles.
  3. Sit down and have an open conversation with your child about the material they may see online. Less is more – have multiple short chats and discussions. Discuss consensual relationships and the difference between reality and fantasy. For example, real life relationships verse pornographic fantasy. Be open about expectations to create boundaries and to build trust.

For more information and advice, Act for Kids recommends parents and guardians visit the eSafety Commissioners website: www.esafety.gov.au

Media contact: Zoe Fox, zoe.fox@actforkids.com.au 0427 794 666