Parents and carers are being urged by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to speak with kids about online safety, with 13 year olds eligible to set up their own social media accounts.
The safety message comes as the AFP ThinkUKnow Program launches a new resource, Parent and carer social media starter kit: preventing online child sexual exploitation, offering tips and advice on how to implement safety measures to help prevent instances of online child sexual exploitation on social media.
Commander for the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE), Hilda Sirec said while some children may have had their own tablets, gaming consoles and other devices for years, turning 13 years old was an important milestone for parents and carers to initiate age-appropriate conversations about personal safety online.
“Websites, apps, games or sites have the potential to be positive and foster creativity, teach problem-solving skills and provide much-needed connectivity to friends, however, there is also the potential for them to be misused or cause harm,” Commander Sirec said.
“Talking to your children early and often about their online behaviour as well as educating them on safe online practices is key to ensuring that children use the internet safely,” she said.
“The return of the school year is a good time to have, or re-start, those conversations.”
Commander Sirec reminded parents and carers that, although 13 year olds were legally allowed to create a social media account in their own name, it did not necessarily mean the content and images they would be exposed to were appropriate for their age group.
“We know parents and carers are doing a great job raising their kids and that is why we are encouraging them to have important safety conversations with children before they sign up to social media services to prevent the risk of online child sexual exploitation,” she said.
“These conversations are vital to helping protect children online, but also for creating an open and non-judgemental channel of communication throughout their teenage years.”
Commander Sirec said it was vital parents and carers were always approachable if their child needed help.
AFP’s 12-page social media starter kit can be downloaded at this PS News link.