In a time when social distancing is key to addressing the evolving public health issue of COVID-19, the internet allows children to learn, connect and create. However, going online is not risk-free. This month, we continue our three-part series on keeping children safe online.
On the 3rd of September, ten additional police officers joined the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad to address a rise in online sex crimes against children. In a statement released by the NSW Police, Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Jayne Doherty attributed this concerning trend to children spending additional time at home online unsupervised.
“The best tool to ensure your child’s safety is you. Make sure they know they can tell you about anything that makes them uncomfortable and that any app, game or social media platform where they speak to other people can put them at risk,” Det Supt Doherty said.
Many seemingly innocuous apps and games include chat functions which allow anyone in the world to contact your child. Before installing any app or game, do your research and ensure you maximise privacy settings. The Carly Ryan Foundation provides detailed, up-to-date information for parents on specific apps and games. These guides include step-by-step instructions on how to operate configure privacy settings on the apps. These free fact sheets can be downloaded from carlyryanfoundation.com.
In addition to maximising privacy settings on apps, you need to supervise children when they access the internet. It is best to always supervise small children (under 5 years old) physically when they use internet-enabled devices.
Primary aged school children should be encouraged to ask you to access devices, and you need to know where they are and what they are doing when they log on onto the web. I highly discourage allowing primary aged school children to access the internet in their bedroom with the door closed. As children grow older, regular conversations about online safety continue to be essential.
For more information, visit the eSafety Commissioner’s website on https://www.esafety.gov.au/parents.
Article Written + Submitted by
Monica Purcell | Family Facilitator