WA Child Safety Services (WACSS) have called on parents to be more involved in their children’s online activities to enhance their cyber safety.
Ahead of a free workshop on May 16 at the Don Russell Performing Arts Centre, WACSS said the key to making sure children stayed safe online was parental education and intervention.
WACSS principal trainer Justine O’Malley said parents needed to start talking to their kids about the dangers of the online world from an early age.
“We need to develop for our younger children a relationship where they feel comfortable sharing with us what they’re posting online, so if they do post something inappropriate, we can have a discussion with them around why that might not be appropriate,” she said.
“Parents can understand that. They’re not going to throw a child in the deep end when they’re five years old if they don’t know how to swim but for some reason, we don’t know how to translate that to the cyber world.
“It’s going to be a lot easier if you’re involved in the beginning than suddenly at the age of 12 because the reality is children at that age are probably going to hide what’s going on.”
Mrs O’Malley said parents should look to have constructive conversations with their children to encourage them to open up about their online habits.
“We always want to let our children know they can talk with us about anything, no matter what it is, without fear of losing their internet access,” she said.
“That is probably one of the primary reasons children don’t tell their parents something, like pornography, has come up on their computer.
“They might see it, they might be worried about it, but they often don’t tell parents because they’re going to say ‘that was something you’ve been told not to look at, you’re banned for the next week’.”
She said it was also important to talk to children about the consequences of their actions in cyberspace.
“The digital footprint is a big thing and I think we haven’t seen the repercussions of that yet, because the real issue around digital safety has really risen since the increase in portable devices,” she said.
“Years ago, the main computer was in a living area where the parents had a better understanding of what people were doing online. Of course now the majority of children have a portable device that very often they have in their rooms, and parents often have no idea of what their children are doing online.”
If you are interested in attending WACSS’s cyber safety workshop, register your attendance on the City of Gosnells website or call 9397 3121 before May 15.