Give your children the gift of online safety this Christmas
Parents are being urged to read the AFP’s online safety guide, Gaming, Devices and What You Need to Know, when choosing and setting up new electronic devices for their family this festive season.
Developed by the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) and the ThinkUKnow program, the safety guide provides easy steps to help protect children online.
Tech and gaming devices will be on many children’s Christmas wish lists this year, yet many parents and carers feel overwhelmed when it comes to their child’s online activities.
AFP Acting Commander ACCCE and Human Exploitation Jayne Crossling said it was vital parents and carers talked openly and regularly to their children about their online activities.
“According to market research commissioned by the ACCCE, only 52 per cent of parents and carers talk to their children about online safety,” A/Commander Crossling said.
“It can be hard to know exactly what to do to keep your child safe online, but if you are planning on buying electronic and gaming devices this Christmas, think about who your child might be connecting with. Talk to your children about their online activities, keep up the conversations and keep them open.
“With just three per cent of parents and carers listing online grooming as a concern, it’s never been more important to understand the dangers we perceive in the real world are just as prevalent in the online world.
“The holidays are an important time for parents and carers to be aware of how their children are accessing the internet, and to implement proactive strategies to keep children safe.
“We encourage parents to be aware of the connections their children are making online, and teach their children that not everyone online is who they say they are.
“Strategies include checking privacy settings on devices and turning off location settings, setting profiles to private, having an understanding of the games, apps and sites your young person accesses, and ideally turning off chat functions where they are not required.
“Parents or carers may not be aware that chat functions appear on several popular online games and applications.”
Christmas is a busy time for parents and carers, but it is a time of year to be extra vigilant and aware of how children will use electronic devices - especially when connected to the internet.
The ACCCE Child Protection Triage Unit (CPTU) usually experience spikes in reporting of online child exploitation incidents after holiday periods. Last financial year, the CPTU received more than 36,600 reports.
Online offenders use the privacy and anonymity of the internet to identify and target children. They often use a direct message function to first approach a child and convince them to move to an image sharing platform to elicit child sexual abuse material.
Many popular devices have safety features that parents and carers could use to help minimise the risk of inappropriate contact.
“It is vital to implement parental controls on devices and talk to children about how to build safe online habits. A direct message or chat function can allow anyone to make contact with your child,’’ A/Commander Crossling said.
“Just as you would ask your child about their day, ask them what apps, social media and games they are using online, and use our online safety resource to explore and navigate their features.
“Most importantly, supervise your children when they’re online by encouraging screen time in shared areas of the home. This is a critical factor in preventing self-produced child abuse material and online grooming.”
If parents are concerned about an issue that has happened online, it is critical children are supported. Parents and carers can make a report online by alerting the ACCCE via the Report Abuse button at www.accce.gov.au/report.
The AFP’s ThinkUKnow online child safety program is focused on preventing online child sexual exploitation. For more information visit thinkuknow.org.au.
A copy of the resource can be found in the resources for parents and carers section at thinkuknow.org.au
Members of the public who have any information about people involved in child abuse and exploitation are urged to call Crime stoppers on 1800 333 000.
If you or someone you know are impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation there are support services available, visit to learn more www.accce.gov.au/support.
Note to media
Use of term ‘CHILD ABUSE’ MATERIAL NOT ‘CHILD PORNOGRAPHY’
The correct legal term is Child Abuse Material – the move to this wording was among amendments to Commonwealth legislation in 2019 to more accurately reflect the gravity of the crimes and the harm inflicted on victims.
Use of the phrase "child pornography" is inaccurate and benefits child sex abusers because it:
indicates legitimacy and compliance on the part of the victim and therefore legality on the part of the abuser; and
conjures images of children posing in 'provocative' positions, rather than suffering horrific abuse.
Every photograph or video captures an actual situation where a child has been abused.
AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297