#StartTheChat and make the Internet safer for kids

IT’S Safer Internet Day and people from across the world are being urged to come together to help make the online world a safer and better place for all – especially children and young people.

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This year’s theme is ‘Together for a better Internet.’

2021 is the 18th installment of the campaign.

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In Australia, the eSafety Commissioner supports the initiative through a national campaign and special events.

The campaign includes tailored resources and activities for parents, carers, teachers, businesses and community organisations. Resources include website pages, online safety tips, parents’ webinars, virtual classrooms and promotional material to help spread the word about Safer Internet Day.

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The 2021 campaign is urging people to #StartTheChat and get people talking about online safety.

Not just on Safer Internet Day, but every day.

Resources are also being made available for children under five to help them learn more about online safety.

The eSafey Commissioner said it is never too early to begin the chat, as children as young as two often have access to the Internet.

The eSafety Commissioner’s office was established in 2015 and tasked with coordinating and leading Australia’s online safety across the government, industry and not-for-profit community.

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Services include mechanisms to report cyberbullying, illegal content and image-based abuse.

You can find more on Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, here.

The commissioner’s official website said it was important for people to join forces and make the Internet a safer place, especially with more people turning to the world wide web to learn, socialise and work over the past year.

While the Internet creates many positive outcomes for Aussie teens, there are also many negative experiences they risk being exposed to.

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A study of 627 Australian teens in September 2020 found that children aged between 12 and 17 years spent an average of 14.4 hours online every week.

That’s more than 2 hours every day.

Nine out of 10 teens used the Internet to research topics of interest, watch videos, chat with friends and listen to music.

Eight out of 10 teens played games online with others.

Youtube, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat were the most popular social media platforms, while TikTok was the fastest growing.

Some 44 per cent of Aussie teens said they had a negative experience online in the previous six months.

The most common negative experiences included being contacted by a stranger or someone they didn’t know, receiving inappropriate or unwanted content and being deliberately excluded from events or social groups.

Interestingly, 80 per cent of teens wanted more online safety information delivered through trusted channels – including their schools, a trusted eSafety website and their patents.

You can find more details on the study, here.

Meanwhile, 90 per cent of teens engaged in at least one positive online behaviour and nearly all who had a negative experience online engaged in positive online behaviour afterwards.

Around 170 countries worldwide now celebrate Safer Internet Day.

Additional resources:
Safer Internet Day website.

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