With COVID-19 resulting in families staying indoors more often, keeping children safe when using social media has never been more important.
These included more time at home, the increased prevalence of livestreaming on social media and the apparent increase in victims of abuse coming forward.
Commissioner for eSafety Julie Inman Grant said she was deeply concerned by the tsunami of online child sexual abuse material that was reflected in the reports coming in to the commission.
She said while parental controls on devices were fine and important, nothing beat parental presence.
“My essential message to parents is this: be just as involved in your children’s online lives as you are in their everyday lives” she said.
“Know the apps and platforms your children are using, and understand the parental and privacy settings available.”
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Anti child exploitation advocacy group Collective Shout campaign manager Melinda Liszewski said parents needed to watch what photos of their children were being shared on social media.
“These photos are ending up on paedophile forums and we know that because we’ve stumbled across forums and seen Instragram accounts,” she said.
Ms Liszewski said parents should also be cautious of livestreaming their children, and be mindful of any illegal comments.
“Don’t let your guard down for a second – this stuff is real and when it happens it’s devastating – you don’t want your child to go through the trauma,” she said.
Victim advocate Dayna Dennison said having open discussions between parents and children early on about e-safety was important.
“My advice would be for parents to have open communication with their children from as young as possible around safe, protective behaviours and open conversations about what is and isn’t OK,” she said.
- Child sexual abuse material can be reported anonymously to the eSafety Commissioner at esafety.gov.au/reportillegalcontent. Crimes can also be reported anonymously to CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000.
- If this article raises concerns for you or anyone you know contact the 24-hour national sexual assault and family violence counselling service on 1800 737 732.