Managing the impacts
It can be distressing if you encounter harmful online content, or if children and young adults in your care are exposed to content that is not appropriate for their age and maturity.
On this page:
Report illegal and restricted online content to eSafety
You can report illegal and restricted content, including child sexual exploitation material, to eSafety. All reports about illegal and restricted online content can be made anonymously – that means you don’t have to give your name or contact details when you report it.
Talking with friends and family
If you are impacted by illegal and restricted online content, it can be hard to talk about the experience. But support from friends and family can make all the difference.
Telling a friend or loved one about what you experienced can help to make you feel supported and lessen your distress. Friends and family may also be able to provide a different perspective on what you saw or experienced, and they can help you to minimise exposure to harmful content.
How to deal with online content that you think is illegal or harmful
If you see online content that you think is illegal or harmful there are a number of ways to deal with it:
- Close the browser or turn off the screen of your device – if you are using a desktop computer, hit control-alt-delete if a website does not allow you to exit.
- Report illegal and restricted content to eSafety. For more information, including what you can report, and key steps to report illegal and restricted content, see how eSafety can help.
- If the content does not meet the threshold for what eSafety can investigate, you can report it to the online service on which you encountered it – refer to The eSafety Guide for reporting links for popular social media, games, apps and websites.
- If what you have seen has shocked or upset you, talk to someone you trust – or seek professional help through a counselling or support service.
- To help protect yourself in future, use a filter or other tool to block certain content, and use safe search settings in your browser – although be aware that no filter is 100% effective. For more information see parental controls.
Information for parents and carers
What can I do if my child sees harmful content?
Online safety basics can help you teach your child strategies to deal with online content that is upsetting or makes them feel uncomfortable.
How can I report online grooming or child sexual abuse to the police?
Children and young people can be sexually abused online through the sharing of sexual content, comments or conversations, or through livestreaming sexual or sexualised activity or conversations. Usually they are tricked or persuaded to trust the person first, so it is easier to abuse them – this is called ‘grooming’.
Both sexual abuse and grooming a child for sexual abuse are crimes and should be reported to police immediately.
If you are concerned about the safety of a child online now, you should report the matter to your local police. If you are in Australia and a child is in immediate danger or at risk of harm call Triple Zero (000).
If you suspect a child is a victim of online child exploitation, including online grooming and inappropriate contact, you can report this to the Australian Federal Police via the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE). If you are concerned about the possibility that your child is at risk, or you know of a child possibly at risk, act on it.
Reports can also be made in confidence to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or at crimestoppers.com.au.
Online pornography and adult content
The internet has opened up a whole new world of content for young people and a new set of challenges for parents. Read our advice on online pornography for parents and carers.
Safe browsing and parental controls
Parental controls are available for most devices, either through pre-installed settings that can be activated yourself on a device, or via the installation of free or commercial software. Read our advice on parental controls.
Counselling and support
5 to 25 year olds. All issues. Confidential phone counselling available all day, every day. Online chat available 24/7, 365 days a year.
12 to 25 year olds. All issues. Phone counselling available 12pm to 8pm AEST, every day. Online chat available 9am to 1am AEST, every day.