BULLYING, sexting, social media and inappropriate content are among the plethora of topics to be explored by cyber safety expert Jordan Foster when she hosts a free workshop for parents Tuesday night.
Ms Foster, a psychologist and founder and chief executive of ySafe Solutions, will cover key issues children and teens face when operating in the digital world and strategies parents can use to mitigate them.
With the average age a child first encounters inappropriate content online being just nine years old, she said advice was needed.
“These kind of statistics are pretty harrowing for parents,” she said.
“Sadly, many are under the false impression their kids won’t be exposed to it because they’re not actively searching for it.”
Ms Foster, a 2018 WA Young Achiever Award finalist, said children were often exposed to unsavoury content through search engines and pop-ups on game websites.
“It’s why education for parents is so vital,” she said.
“It’s about strategies and there are many – filtering systems, safe searches and age-restricted content can all act as barriers.”
Ms Foster said cyber bullying was also a big issue, but one which kids were not always keen to address because they feared having their digital devices, games and online access taken away.
She said simply banning children from their device or game was not the answer.
There were similar comments from Kids Helpline chief executive Tracy Adams this month, backed by statistics showing up to 73 per cent of enquiries made to the service in 2017 did not include an online or texting component.
“While there is no doubt digital devices play a part in bullying, in reality it’s not where most bullying takes place,” she said.
She said the focus needed to be on the cause of the bullying, rather than the medium it was carried out on.
Ms Foster said parents had found success in addressing issues with their children directly, even if they were not as familiar or comfortable in the digital space.
“If parents don’t get involved because they don’t understand social media or games, that’s a big problem,” she said.
“If parents lack knowledge, that’s OK because they can take steps to address that.
“There are people and groups out there that can help.”
The free workshop will run at the Bull Creek Library from 7pm to 8pm.
Phone 9364 0150 to reserve your place.