New online safety guide for the holiday season

A new guide to online safety is released today for parents and others shopping for tech for kids this holiday season.

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

AFP ACCCE Commander and Human Exploitation 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 guardians, however, it’s 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.

“May I beg everyone to implement parental controls on devices and talk to kids about how to create safe online habits,” Commander Sirec said.

“Like asking your kid about their day, asking them what apps, social networks and games they use online, and use our resource to explore and browse its features. A direct message or chat function can allow anyone to get in touch with your child.

“Most importantly, supervise your kids when they’re online by encouraging screen time in common areas of the house. This is a critical factor in preventing self-produced child abuse material and online grooming ”,

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 (CPTU) typically experiences spikes in reporting incidents of child abuse online after vacation periods. Last year, the CPTU received over 22,000 reports.

Parents can keep their children safe by having open conversations about online safety from an early age and continuing that dialogue through all stages of development.

Be accessible if your child needs help. Coming up isn’t always easy, and kids may be reluctant to tell you about issues online if they think they will be punished or have their devices taken away.

If parents are concerned about a problem that has happened online, it is essential that children are supported. Parents and guardians can report online by alerting ACCCE through the Report Abuse button at www.accce.gov.au/report.


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Susan W. Lloyd