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Cybersafety

Parents are often concerned about their child’s access to the internet and how they can keep them safe.

Introduction

The internet can be an extremely useful tool in supporting the puberty education of children with intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder. As you journey through Planet Puberty, you’ll find that there are lots of strategies we suggest that involve utilising tablets, phones, YouTube and  other different digital platforms to assist your child in things like communication, visual scheduling and creating social stories. Internet connected devices can also be a much-needed support for parents, especially when you want some private time or when your child wants some entertainment!  See Self-Care.

Parents are often concerned about their child’s access to the internet and how they can keep them safe. Depending on the devices or apps your child commonly uses, they may have varying degrees of access to different parts of the internet. Here are some suggestions to help keep your child safe and cyber-smart online:

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A family tech agreement can be a good way to involve your child in setting boundaries, setting a schedule and practicing decision making skills. If your child uses a computer or tablet at school, they will likely have something similar.

The tech agreement might contain things like:

  • how long you spend online
  • what types of websites and games can be visited
  • what is acceptable online behaviour
  • what to do if you see something that makes you feel bad

The eSafety Commissioner and ABC Kids have developed an example of a family tech agreement that you can download here: https://www.esafety.gov.au/parents/children-under-5/family-tech-agreement

Emphasise the importance of keeping personal details like banking details and passwords private. There are a number of secure password storage apps available that you can set up to ensure that private login information is accessible by your child but safe from the eyes of anyone else.

It’s important to support your child to:

  • make sure their social media profiles are able to be viewed only by ‘friends’
  • set their profiles so that they have to approve pictures before they are tagged in them
  • delete contacts that they don’t actually know
  • familiarise themselves with the report and block buttons.
    • make sure your child feels confident in blocking and reporting any content or contact they receive that makes them feel unsafe. The person will not know you have reported them so it is safe to do.
  • delete any requests you receive from strangers.

Check out the ‘Taming the technology’ list from the eSafety Commissioner for a comprehensive list of how to utilise parental control and other tools to maximise online safety at home. https://www.secca.org.au/resources/internet-safety-cards/

Help your child understand what type of information is OK and not OK to share online. Your child should not share their:

  • full name
  • address
  • phone number
  • school name or photos of their school uniform

You might think about creating a “private information” list to help support your child when they are using the internet.

Not everything sent in an email or a message is safe to open. Lots of spam emails will have fake names and offers of lots of money, fame and fortune. It’s important to teach your child to not open links or downloads that have not been specifically requested or sent by a trusted person. You can support this by making sure your anti-virus software is up to date, and to encourage your child to seek help if they are unsure

This topic can be difficult for parents to talk about, especially as it is something that may not have been as common when you were younger. It can be very common for teenagers to send and receive sexually explicit material or naked photos over text or social media platforms. However, in some states and territories there are criminal laws that may apply depending on the situation and the ages of the people involved.

It’s important for you and your child to understand the law regarding nudes and sexting, and strategies that can be used to help keep them safe.

Talk to your child about sexting and nudes using resources from SECCA in easy English: https://www.secca.org.au/resources/sexuality-relationships-and-your-rights-resource

Not everyone on the internet is a potential friend. People lie about who they are and pretend to be somebody that they are not. While we want to believe the best in people, the reality is that the internet opens up a whole world of people and not everyone has your child’s best interests at heart.

Your child may not always communicate with you when something is not quite right with a person they have met online. This is why it’s important to communicate regularly about safety and encourage your child to ask you questions. Reinforce with your child that you don’t know a person you met online until you meet them in person, and that you should only ever meet somebody you met online in a public place and only if you have a support person with you.

The eSafety Commissioner has excellent resources for parents on keeping your child safe from unwanted contact on the internet: https://www.esafety.gov.au/parents/big-issues/unwanted-contact

Things can change quickly on the internet, and it’s important to keep yourself up-to-date with the latest information. The eSafety guide is an excellent resource where you can learn about the latest games, apps and social media that your child might use, including how to protect your information and report inappropriate content.

https://www.esafety.gov.au/key-issues/esafety-guide

SECCA have also produced a downloadable set of eSafety cards which can be used to support your child to learn about online safety, appropriate behaviour and safe online relationships: https://www.secca.org.au/resources/internet-safety-cards/

Conversation Starters

(Use an example of a junk email that you know is spam) I just got an email – can you tell me whether you think it’s a safe email or not? Why do you think that?
I’ve been thinking that we should have a family talk about the internet. Have you got any ideas of how to make the internet safe for our family?
What is your favourite website? Can you show me?

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