AFP publishes Christmas technical safety guide

A new online safety guide for parents and others buying tech for kids this holiday season has been released by the Australian Federal Police.

Developed by the AFP-led Australian Child Exploitation Center and AFP’s ThinkUKnow program, the Guide to Games, Devices and What You Need to Know Safety is designed to provide simple steps to help protect children online.

AFP’s commander at ACCCE, Hilda Sirec, said the technology was on many children’s Christmas wish lists this year.

“This guide was launched to help parents and caregivers minimize the risk of inappropriate contact and sexual exploitation of children online on popular devices,” said Commander Sirec.

“One of the best gifts parents and guardians can give to children is safety and protection. Don’t give an offender the chance to communicate with your child this holiday season.

Commander Sirec said many popular devices have safety features that parents and caregivers can use to help minimize the risk of improper contact.

Policies include checking privacy settings on devices and disabling location settings, setting private profiles, and disabling chat features.

“It’s a busy time for parents and caregivers; However, it is important to know how your children will use these devices, especially those that connect to the Internet.

Commander Sirec said that even if parents or guardians don’t buy technology for their children this Christmas, the resource could still be used for devices already in the home.

Online offenders use the privacy and anonymity of the Internet to identify and target children. They often use a direct message feature to first approach a child and convince them to switch to an image sharing platform to obtain child abuse material.

ACCCE’s Child Protection Triage Unit typically experiences spikes in reporting incidents of child abuse online after vacation periods. Last year, the unit received over 22,000 reports.

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Susan W. Lloyd