The internet and online technologies are incredible tools. They provide an opportunity to communicate, learn, play and be entertained by content from around the world.
For many young people, the internet and mobile phones are their social lifeline. It's where they engage with friends out-of-school hours and keep up-to-date. For some, time away from that network can threaten their sense of connectedness to their social community.
Like communicating in the real world, there are risks in interacting online. Cyberbullying, identity theft, scams and inappropriate content are some of the issues that can pose challenges for young people – from pre-schoolers who may be starting to use a computer to more experienced teens.
Tips for parents
- Remember that even when children seem to have good technical knowledge, their online behaviour still requires parental monitoring and guidance.
- Spend time online with your child – using the internet can be a fun family activity.
- Try to locate the computer in a shared or visible place in the home.
- Help your child use the internet as an effective research tool and teach them that information on the internet is not always reliable.
- Teach your child positive online etiquette. Encourage them to treat others online in the same way they would like to be treated.
- Set rules – make sure your child knows what information they can share by phone or post online and which websites they can visit. Discuss the amount of time they can spend online and ensure they maintain a balance.
- Teach your child that there are ways they can deal with disturbing material – encourage them not to respond to any communication that makes them feel uncomfortable or worried and to report it to a trusted adult.
Tips for kids and teens
- Be careful when adding a new ‘friend' to online or email contact lists. Making new friends can be fun, but there's a chance that they may not be who they say they are.
- Think before you post information online – once posted it's difficult to remove.
- Never share your passwords and always set your profile to ‘private' so your personal information is kept secret.
- Check with your parents before you give anyone on the internet your personal details.
- Don't respond if someone sends you unkind or offensive messages or asks you to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable. Instead, tell your parents or another adult you can trust.
- If you want to meet someone you only know online, ask your parents or another trusted adult to go with you and always meet in a public place.
- Don't open messages from people that you don't know. These could contain viruses.
- Tell your parents if you are upset or worried by language, pictures or videos on the internet.
- Don't accept any offers that seem too good to be true – they probably are.
- If you need help, contact the Cybersmart Online Helpline on the Cybersmart website or call Kids Helpline direct on 1800 551 800.
- If there is a threat to your safety the police will help. In a life threatening and time critical situation, call Triple Zero (000).
The eSafety Commissioner is also committed to helping young people have safe, positive experiences online. For more information visit their website.
Have you ever used the internet to comment on things you've seen or read, research, share information, communicate with friends, play games or go shopping? If you answered yes to any of these then you are a digital citizen.
Digital citizenship is about building safe spaces and communities, understanding how to manage personal information, and using your online presence to grow and shape your world in a safe, creative way.
For more information visit the NSW digital citizenship website.