Today is Safer Internet Day – a day when governments around the world are helping parents and their children to use the internet safely.
The Internet can be an awesome place to be. Over the past two decades, the Internet has become a useful tool for learning, shopping and fun. But the Internet can also be a dangerous activity, especially for children and teens.
To coincide with Safer Internet Day 2021, Australia’s eSafety Commissioner has released research about the dangers posed to teenagers on the Internet.
According to the research, the Digital Lives of Aussie Teens, teenagers in Australia are spending around two hours a day online and use four different social media services. Most of their time on social media is spent catching up with friends but some teenagers reported having a negative experience online – including being contacted by a stranger.
“Our research shows that while teens’ increased use of technology offers many benefits, there is a distinct downside – dealing with negative online experiences such as unwanted contact and cyberbullying,” says Australia’s eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.
The research found that 40% of teens had at least one negative experience online over a six month period. Two in ten reported being sent inappropriate content such as pornography and violent images.
The good news is that after having a negative experience online, 90% of Aussie teens “sought to build positive online relationships…such as, posting positive/nice comments about others, supporting or listening to a friend who had a bad experience, or making sure that peers were not excluded online.”
“Compared to the 2017 research, more teens appear to be taking some form of action after a negative online experience,” said Ms Inman Grant. “That could mean managing it themselves, such as blocking the person or reporting the issue. However, a large percentage of teens still ignore potentially harmful online experiences or believe nothing will change if they seek help.”
“This year we are encouraging people to ‘start the chat’ about online safety – whether that’s with friends, in the workplace, or parents at home with their children. Does your teenager know where to turn if they’ve had a negative experience online, or been approached by a stranger?”
The eSafety Commissioner’s office has also released two new resources to help younger children learn about Internet safety. Swoosh, Glide and Rule Number 5 is fun new book and song to help young children learn the basics of online safety. “The My Family Rules song by Lah-Lah will have them reading and singing along as they build good digital habits.”
The Federal Government has also committed to enhancing Australia’s online safety framework through the proposed Online Safety Bill, which will further protect Australians against harmful online abuse.
For more information about online safety and resources for parents visit the eSafety Commissioner’s website at esafety.gov.au