As generative AI triggers a new wave of online harms and abuse, child protection charity Act for Kids is encouraging individuals to reflect on how actions online may affect others this Safer Internet Day.
Safer Internet Day is a global campaign, led by the eSafety Commissioner in Australia, and focuses on the urgent need for a safer online world, especially for children and young people.
Act for Kids CEO Dr Katrina Lines said the organisation was backing the global push to help protect children online, with 62 per cent of kids exposed to potentially harmful online content.
“Statistics show 75 per cent of teenagers aged 16 to 18 had encountered online porn, with 13 being the average age of the first encounter,” Dr Lines said.
“Worryingly, 68 per cent of First Nations children have been treated in a hurtful or nasty way online and 29 per cent of First Nations children have experienced online hate speech.
“The digital world touches every aspect of our lives, from schools to workplaces and homes. Prioritising online safety is not just a goal – it’s a necessity.
“That’s why we also encourage everyone to get behind eSafety’s call to ‘Connect, Reflect and Protect’ whenever you’re online. That is, connect safely by regularly reviewing your privacy and security settings; reflect on how your actions may affect your safety, or others; and to protect yourself and loved ones by visiting eSafety.gov.au for safety tips or to report online abuse.
“Education and communication is key, given it is often hard for parents to keep track of their child’s online behaviour as they grow older.”
To report serious online abuse to eSafety, visit: eSafety.gov.au.
Top online safety tips for parents and carers:
• Be invested and involved in your child’s online lives early on: ask what they’re doing, why they enjoy it and how it works. By showing your interest, it makes it easier for them to open up if things go wrong.
• Set family rules together, including which devices and apps can be used, when and for how long.
• Encourage them to use their devices in open areas of the home, rather than in their bedroom or bathroom.
• Know what apps they’re using and how to activate age-appropriate parental controls.
• Regularly review the privacy and safety features of the apps they’re using with them to ensure they are set at the highest level. Particularly during the younger years, know who they are connected to, including through online games.
• Keep reminding them that you always have their back if things go wrong online.
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