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Safety comes first when you're online

05 February 2018

Safe internet use isn’t just about keeping your bank details or your password secret. To protect your mental health and physical safety – and that of others – it’s important to follow a few simple rules when using the internet, especially where children are involved. Cyberbullying, among other things, is a serious concern. 

To mark worldwide Safer Internet Day this Tuesday 6 February, here are some insights and tips to help you use the internet safely and responsibly. 

The internet and your health

Keeping safe on the ‘net helps protect you and your children’s mental health and wellbeing. Anyone who has experienced cyberbullying, for example, knows it can leave you feeling depressed, frightened, angry or embarrassed. 

Cyberbullies repeatedly hurt or embarrass another person using electronic means, such as, you guessed it, the internet or mobile phones. Online bullying is relatively common, with 1 in 4 children aged 12 to 17 saying they’ve been a target of bullying or hurtful comments via the internet. 

Not only is cyberbullying hurtful, it may be illegal if it involves ‘sexting’ or posting naked or suggestive images online. 

Tips for safer internet use

  • Think before you post something online — once shared, it can be hard to remove.
  • Always keep your passwords secret, and change them regularly.
  • Don’t open messages from people you don’t know. They could contain harmful viruses, or be an attempt to steal your personal details.
  • Never accept offers sent via email or text, for example, that seem too good to be true.
  • If someone is offensive or makes you feel uncomfortable online, don’t respond. Leave the site immediately. 

If you’re a parent or carer, help your child by asking them to:

  • tell you if they are upset by anything they see on the internet (or, tell a teacher, counsellor or another trusted adult)
  • be careful about who they trust online – making new friends can be fun, but those ‘friends’ may not be who they say they are
  • ask you before they give anyone on the internet their name, address or any personal details
  • be kind and respectful online 

Learn more about Safer Internet Day (SID) and use the free educational resources available here. Follow everything ‘SID’ on social media with the hashtag #SID2018 or #SaferInternetDay.

Need help or advice?

ReachOut has more information about cyberbullying. If you need to talk, call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 any time.

If you’re in immediate danger, call the police on triple zero (000). 

Report cyberbullying or offensive content to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.

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