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Online safety for sports parents

Online safety for sports parents
Online safety for sports parents

Sport is an enjoyable and rewarding part of life for many young people. While it mainly happens in person, it’s good for parents and carers to remember that it also plays out online.

Sharing photos and videos of games, and team chat groups are all part of sport for young people. Most of the time this is positive, but it might mean issues such as teasing and bullying may spill over online, as well as happening face-to-face at sport.

Check out our tips for sport parents to help keep young people safe and deal with online safety issues.

On this page:

How to help young people deal with online safety issues

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When young people are online, there is a chance they could have a negative online experience. This could include:

  • teasing, name calling, put downs or abusive language
  • bullying
  • being pressured into sexting and sending nudes
  • being threatened
  • unwanted contact 
  • grooming by a sexual predator.

Online abuse can affect the targeted person’s mental and physical health and sense of safety, especially if the abuse is ongoing or if harmful content is shared widely. This is why eSafety helps deal with serious forms of harm such as cyberbullying of a child under 18, adult cyber abuse (18 or older) and image-based abuse (sometimes known as ‘revenge porn’ or ‘sextortion’).

Understanding how to recognise different types of online abuse can help you work out if it’s happening to a young person in your life.

In some cases, the person responsible for the online abuse is another member of the sport. Other times it may be a non-member or someone completely unknown. No matter what the situation is, it can be seriously distressing, so it’s important the targeted person has access to support.

How to report online abuse

Online abuse is never OK, and eSafety is here to help. There are steps you can take to help your child deal with it.

If your child is targeted by online abuse:

Contact your child’s sport organisation for help – they may have policies around online safety in place.

Follow the steps to help them report serious online abuse:

Find more detailed advice about How to deal with online abuse in sport if this happens to your child.

Sport rules and policies related to online safety

Most sport organisations have policies in place around online safety. When it comes to young people, this is generally covered in child safeguarding policies. It will set out rules about:

  • standards of behaviour
  • adult communication with young people
  • taking and sharing photos and videos
  • making complaints and more.

Reach out to your child’s sport organisation if you have any concerns. You can also report certain matters to Sport Integrity Australia

An important part of sport policies is around online communication between your child and adult members. This includes all interactions by adult coaches, officials, managers, administrators and other members. It’s an important step for preventing online abuse, particularly grooming of children by sexual predators. Sport policies will generally say:

  • any electronic or online communication must include parents or carers
  • adult members should not befriend young members on social media.

You can use Sport Integrity Australia’s Child Safe Practices Dos and Don’ts Guide for more guidance.

Advice on taking photos and videos at sport

Taking photos and videos at kids’ sport is something most parents love to do. You can capture the action and keep these great moments forever – but there are some things to keep in mind:

  • Your sport will have policies in place which may detail what is and is not allowed.
  • Sport organisations should gain your permission to take and share images of your child.
  • When you take images of other children, respect that not everyone wants their child’s photo online. Sport policies and venues may restrict you from taking images at times – but if not, always check with other parents first.

Take a look at our examples for parents on this page for more advice, as well 8 ways to stay safe online in sport, which has more information about strategies to help keep you and your child safe online as part of your sport. 

You can also read more advice from eSafety:

Online safety examples for parents

Click on the + symbol to find out what to do and how to deal with each situation.

  • Reach out to your sport organisation for support. As the bullying is from sport members, they may take action under sport policies. 
  • Think, listen and pause. Identify what the scale of the problem is and how badly it is affecting your child personally. Try not to respond immediately and reassure your child that you’re working on what the best solution is. Read our advice page on how to help your child deal with cyberbullying for more information. 
  • Follow steps to report on your child’s behalf. If the cyberbullying is very serious, you can help your child make a cyberbullying report. Follow the steps to find out how to do this.
  • Empower and encourage your child. Try to keep your child connected with friends and other young people, either in sport or at other activities. Help them find ways to build their confidence and to make wise decisions for themselves, rather than telling them what to do. If you feel they might be struggling to let you in on how they’re feeling, let them know they can talk to other trusted adults or connect with a counselling and support service

  • Reach out to your sport organisation for help. Sport policies should outline what is and is not allowed with regards to taking photos and videos. Rules may vary depending on different factors, such as whether they are being taken in a public space.
  • Ask the other parents not to take images of your child.

You can find more advice about privacy and your child, including sharing photos and videos safely online.

Sport policies should require communication between adult and child members of a club should always include the child’s parent or carer. 

  • In this situation, report the matter to your sport organisation for support and advice on what to do. 

  • Be an upstander. Call out the behaviour and ask for it to stop, if you feel comfortable doing so.
  • Reach out to your sport organisation. As the messages are from sport members, they may take action under sport policies. 
  • Collect evidence. Take screenshots and record what has happened, including any usernames and where and when the messages were sent, so you have proof.

Sport policies should requite communication between adult and child members of a club should always include the child’s parent or carer. These policies should also advise adult members not to befriend child members on social media. 

  • In this situation, report the matter to your sport organisation for support and help on what to do. 

More information for parents and carers

eSafety provides a wide range of general resources for parents and carers to help you deal with a range of online safety issues:

You can also share age-appropriate resources for your family from our:

You can also get help and support from one of these counselling services

Kids Helpline

5 to 25 year olds. All issues. Confidential phone counselling available all day, every day. Online chat available 24/7, 365 days a year.

Lifeline

All ages. All issues. Phone counselling and online chat available all day, every day.

More support services

Last updated: 01/11/2023