Children across Australia are getting online earlier than ever before. It seems many children can use a smartphone or tablet before they can even walk. In a recent eSafety national survey, 81% of parents with preschoolers said their children were already using the internet.

Using smart devices and being online has many benefits for young children, and can help build valuable skills through exploration, play and social interaction. However, it can also expose them to a range of risks, like accessing harmful or inappropriate content, contact with strangers, sharing personal information or images, or missing out on physical activity.

There are a range of initiates you can implement to keep your family safe online and encourage safe practices with your children, and to get you started we’ve put together 5 key tips from eSafety that you can put into action today.

5 Tips for keeping your kids safe online

  1. Use parental controls
    Before young children begin to explore online, it is a good idea to activate safety features, filters and parental controls on the devices they use. Parental controls and safe search settings are the best way to protect children from accessing inappropriate content online. Although it’s not a failsafe solution, and helping your child build good online safety habits is just as important.
    Find out more about parental controls and technology safety tools by visiting eSafety’s Taming the Technology.
  2. Play together
    As often as you can (and especially with new games or apps), play alongside your children. Engaging in quality content with your child can be a positive experience for them and can promote their learning and development. We recommend describing what you are thinking and doing whilst exploring online, and ask questions like ‘I wonder what will happen when we tap here?’ For more information, visit eSafety’s Good Habits Start Young
  3. Supervise their activity
    It’s important to supervise their activity online and to ensure you always monitor your child’s time online, particularly younger children. We recommend keeping your computer in a central spot in the home where it’s easy to keep an eye on, or for mobile devices, ask your child to stay nearby in the same room. It is important to ask lots of questions and encourage your child to show you things, so you can stay engaged in what they are doing.
  4. Establish your own good habits
    Experts tell us that children are affected by adults’ use of technology, so it’s a good time to check your own habits. You can help your child to develop good habits from a very young age by establishing routines that manage screen time, define device free places (such as bedrooms) and set up a habit of talking with a trusted adult about the things they see and do with technology. Find out more about what you can do to be a great technology model in this eSafety blog post.
  5. Let them know it’s okay to ask for help
    As you explore and play online together with your child, teach them to ask for help. let them know they should always tell a trusted adult, like a parent, grandparent or educator. They should ask for help if they are contacted by anyone online (including people they know), if they encounter a pop-up, if they are unsure about anything, or if they see or hear something that makes them feel uncomfortable, scared or upset.
    Most importantly, reassure toddlers and preschoolers that they will not be in trouble if they ask you for help about anything they encounter online.

Where can I learn more?

The eSafety Commissioner (eSafety) is Australia’s national independent regulator for online safety with a purpose to help safeguard Australians at risk from online harms and to promote safer, more positive online experiences.

eSafety provides a range of valuable information and resources to help all Australians have safe, enjoyable experiences online. eSafety have a number of tips for parents and carers to help their children safely navigate the online world as well as some fun activities and advice for kids to access and learn about safety online.

To find out more, visit the eSafety website www.esafety.gov.au or click any of the below links:

Safer Internet Day 2020

Safer Internet Day is a worldwide event that raises awareness about online safety and encourages individuals and the community to create a better internet for everyone. Safer Internet Day is currently celebrated in 150 countries around the world and is coordinated by the Insafe/INHOPE network and the European Commission.

In 2020, Safer Internet Day is celebrated on Tuesday, February 10, and the eSafety Commissioner is encouraging Australian families to “start the chat” about online safety. As schools return after the long Australian summer, eSafety has produced a range of downloadable resources available to help educators share important internet safety messages. Safer Internet Day 2020 will kick off in Australia with a major launch event at Parliament House in Canberra, and throughout the week eSafety will run a series of free advice-based webinars for parents and carers.

Sunkids are proud to support Safer Internet Day and eSafety. We firmly believe that providing child safe environments in all areas of our lives (including our centres, homes, public spaces, and online) is paramount in ensuring children are safe and feel respected, valued and encouraged to reach their full potential.

To learn more about how we provide child safe environments, visit your nearest Sunkids Children’s Centre.

- The Sunkids Team