Open letter to Australia's parents and carers
Dear parents and carers,
We are all living in extraordinary times, dealing with changes in the way we interact and live. Even if your health has not been directly impacted by COVID-19, the physical restrictions, emotional stresses and financial pressure may be making it difficult to cope — and for many people, keeping children home from school is adding to the tension.
Australian teachers and schools have been working overtime to ensure the least impact from changes to school routines, but the truth is, this will not be a seamless time for learning. Many of us without teaching experience may struggle to fill the gap. There could be technology and time challenges, particularly for anyone now working from home or caring for others as well. At times, just getting by may be difficult enough.
Learning at home
We recognise that staying safe online is something many parents and carers are concerned about and that privacy and protecting young people should be a priority.
Given the changing environment, eSafety is focused on providing the most up to date material about maintaining online safety. Our homepage now has a direct link to our latest information relevant to COVID-19. You can also sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date as new resources come online.
I encourage you to read my most recent blogposts, COVID-19: an online safety kit for parents and carers, and COVID-19: protecting children from online abuse. They contain links to useful resources for young people and parents. The eSafety website also has information on developing good habits and supporting kids while they are online.
As your children are likely to be interacting more online for learning, playing and socialising over the coming weeks, the need to set expectations about online behaviour is even greater than usual — regardless of their comfort level or proficiency with technology. Have a conversation with them to ensure they know they have reporting pathways if something negative happens online. Check out eSafety’s Top 5 online safety tips for kids and How to report cyberbullying material. The eSafety Parents pages on our website have more tips and resources about the use of digital technology at home.
Webinars for parents and children
eSafety is developing more information, resources and webinars to support young people and parents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sign up to our newsletter, visit our Twitter and Facebook pages and read our latest blogposts to get updates.
Resources and webinars for older Australians
To help maintain contact with older family members and friends, you can download the Get Started app — it has great tips for helping them get online safely. Recommend they visit our Be Connected website, which has lots of easy-to-follow guides for older people. They can learn about making video calls, using social media and shopping online. There’s also specially tailored advice for coping with COVID-19 and we have free online safety webinars on the way.
Now is also a good time for children to connect online with their grandparents and show them the ropes!
Explore the huge range of advice and resources at our national online safety hub, esafety.gov.au – we have programs tailored for all ages.
- eSafety Parents — Advice for parents and carers to help children have safe experiences online.
- eSafety Early Years — Practical advice to tackle the key online safety issues for children from birth to 5 years old.
- eSafety Kids — A platform for kids to learn about online safety in a way they can relate to.
- eSafety Young People — A platform for older children to learn about online safety in an environment that appeals to them.
- eSafety Educators — Online training and resources for teachers, schools and communities.
- eSafety Women — Empowering women to take control against online abuse.
- eSafety Seniors — Online safety advice, tools and support for older Australians.
The safety and wellbeing of Australian children and young people is paramount, so I hope this information is helpful to you.