This paper provides information about online safety and relevant resources available for parents.
Introduction: Young people are increasingly exposed to an open and collaborative online culture, which allows them to access information, maintain friendships and relationships with family, and engage in creative content production. Young people, however, are at a dynamic stage of development in which risk-taking behaviours and immature decision-making capacities can lead to negative outcomes.
An awareness of how to ensure safe practices online is an important skill for young people. While parental involvement in safe use of technology should start from a child's first use, parents continue to be a critical influence in ensuring that teenagers practice responsible digital citizenship and engage in online activities safely.
"Online safety" is used interchangeably with terms such as "Internet safety", "cybersafety", "Internet security", "online security" and "cyber security". The risk of using computers, mobile phones and other electronic devices to access the Internet or other social media is that breaches of privacy may lead to fraud, identity theft and unauthorised access to personal information. Other risks for children include cyberbullying, stalking, or exposure to illicit materials. Criminal offenders have proven to be highly skilled at exploiting new modes of communication to gain access to children, and children can easily access adults-only materials if there are no protective mechanisms in place.
These situations can place a young person's emotional wellbeing, and in extreme cases physical wellbeing, at risk. This is particularly so where little or no attention has been paid to monitoring use, communicating with teenagers about use, or the security of the device being used. In these types of cases, and for the purpose of this paper, online safety is a child protection issue.
While online safety is important for protecting children from dangerous and inappropriate websites and materials, this does not mean that parents should discourage their children from accessing the Internet. The challenge is to help children enjoy the benefits of going online while avoiding the risks.