Wellbeing

Keeping kids safe online: what you can do

Parenting in any generation comes with its own unique set of challenges.

But there’s little doubt today’s parents have an unenviable task when it comes to guiding children through the opportunities – and pitfalls – of the online world.

Below are some resources specifically written for parents who want to know how they can better safeguard their children online.

Parental controls

Parental controls are apps, tools and software that allow parents to monitor and limit what their child can access when they are online.

Australia’s eSafety Commissioner has lots of great advice for parents including their detailed factsheet  “Taming the technology” which provides detailed instructions on how to set up parental controls on various devices and apps.

The factsheet reminds parents that while parental controls and safeguards provide a level of protection, “there is always a risk that inappropriate material could still slip through”.

Teaching children good judgement and being vigilant about monitoring internet use from an early age is still important.

“No parental control tool is 100% effective,” it says.

“Helping your child build good online safety habits is just as important.”

The Commissioner’s eSafety Guide also profiles popular apps and games and includes information on how to activate privacy settings and report abuse.

Having ‘the chat’

Parenting educator Dr Justin Coulson agrees parental controls and filters are not a guaranteed fix.

In his blog titled Parenting with or without Parental Controls, he writes that a filter “only goes so far to protect our children”.

“Even if filters did work – and they clearly aren’t as safe as we’d like – our kids use other people’s devices all the time. Only around 50% of parents have set up filters for their kids, so even if you do, half of your child’s friends don’t.”

He advises talking regularly to children and teens about internet safety is “the most important tool we have to keep our kids safe.”

The eSafety Commissioner’s article ‘The hard-to-have conversations” gives parents age-appropriate advice on how to speak to children.

Other reading and listening

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner holds regular (free) webinars for parents. Register here.

The Australian Council on Children and the Media has launched new online resources for parents who want to know what information is collected about their child when they download Apps.

Michelle Mitchell sets out some advice for parents of tween girls in her blog ‘Setting up Social Media Safety: A crash course for Parents of Tween Girls’.

In her article ‘Set Digital Boundaries’ Dr Kristy Goodwin offers five simple tips for parents to minimise children seeing inappropriate content online.

Kids Helpline has created an information page for parents ‘Social media and safety’.