Please note that the following article links to material that might be confronting or distressing for some readers.

The world is more digitally connected than it’s ever been, which means vigilance about online safety is more important than ever before. Tuesday 7 February 2023 marks the 20th Safer Internet Day, an initiative that started in 2004 and is now recognised by countries around the world. The day provides an opportunity to reflect on how we might create safer online environments for the children and young people under our care.

The theme for this year’s Safer Internet Day is Connect. Reflect. Protect.

  • Connect safely and with purpose—keeping apps and devices secure and using social media in positive ways.
  • Reflect before we act—take a moment to consider how what we do and say online may affect others.
  • Protect ourselves and others by taking action—tell family, friends or colleagues about eSafety and how they can help.

Children and young people spend approximately 7.5 hours per day online, which means half their year is spent on the internet. The potential risks of increased online usage and the severity of these risks are sometimes overlooked.

It’s difficult for parents, organisations and even the police to monitor the internet, so to assist the community, the Australian Childhood Foundation has released a new resource—It’s Never Too Late. Through real stories and practical advice, the resource informs parents and carers about how they can better protect their children online and shows them how to recognise signs of online abuse and manipulation.

As part of this resource, Clare’s story—a YouTube video based on a true story—illustrates some of the dangers that exist for children and young people online, helping them and their parents and carers to consider how they might best respond.

ThinkUKnow is another great resource and has been developed by the Australian Federal Police to educate the community about issues of online safety. It includes materials about child abuse, online grooming and sexual extortion, and an education program encouraging the cultivation of help-seeking behaviour in young people.

The site’s resource section has some great material for organisations, parents and carers to help facilitate discussions about how to navigate the internet safely and confidently.

The eSafety Commissioner is also conducting a range of parent webinars during Term 1, which you may wish to promote to your community. Some of the topics include:

  • eSafety 101
  • setting your child up for success online
  • getting the most out of gaming
  • navigating online friendships.

You can register and find out more here.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne does not necessarily endorse all the views expressed on the sites and resources linked to in this article.