The start of the new school year can be an emotional day for any parent or carer. The holidays are over, it’s time to get back to the serious business of classes and playground games. For some parents there will be tears of sadness that their little one is starting school for the first time. For others, tears of joy that their teen won’t be playing music loud enough to shake the foundations of your home.
As your young ones head out for the new school year with their shiny new shoes, they may also have a shiny new device. The back-to-school period can also be a great time to review your child’s online safety and get ahead of any issues that may come up through the year.
eSafety’s top back-to-school tips include:
Watch out for cyberbullying — online bullying can have a devastating impact on young people, whose online life is a key part of their identity and how they interact socially.
Our complaints show most cyberbullying stems from the school yard with behaviour taking many forms, such as sending abusive messages, hurtful images or videos, nasty online gossip, excluding or humiliating others, or creating fake accounts in someone’s name to trick or humiliate them. See the signs to watch out for here.
‘Sharent’ responsibly— not heard the term ‘sharent’? Well, if you are a parent who shares then that’s you! Be mindful about sharing your child’s first day of school and other milestones on social media.
While it’s perfectly natural for parents to want to share photos of their kids with family and friends, it’s important to remember that we may be unwittingly creating our children’s lasting ‘digital footprint’, which might never be expunged. The reality is, photos of your children on public social media accounts could be searched, accessed and taken by anyone. See more information about sharenting.
Set screen time limits — our research shows more than half of parents are concerned about the amount of time their kids spend online. With screens increasingly being used at school and home, it’s important to ensure your child has a healthy balance of offline and online time. Setting screen-free zones in the home and negotiating switch off times are useful ways to do this. Screens should never be taken into the bedroom or bathroom. Don’t forget, quality over quantity! See more information about managing screen time.
Use tools—parental controls on smartphones, TVs and computers can help limit your child seeing inappropriate content and help manage their time online. Make sure the privacy settings on their apps and games are turned on and help show them how to block and report people online. See more information about using parental controls and privacy and reporting tools.
Stay engaged—as soon as we hand our child a device, we should be talking to them about the dos and don’ts of the online world. It’s also important let them know we’ll be there to support them if anything goes wrong. There is no substitute for taking an interest in our children’s online lives from an early age, to help establish strong foundations and open lines of communication. See more information about keeping your children safe online.
Stay informed throughout the school year as new online risks and issues emerge by visiting esafety.gov.au