Keeping Safe Online Over Christmas

The recent release of the Speaking out Survey 2021 provides an important reminder going into the Christmas holiday of the need for young people to exercise care and be vigilant when online.

The survey of more than 16,500 WA school children is one of the biggest of its kind.

51% of year 4 – 6 students used the internet on a smartphone or computer every day, while 91.3% of year 7 -12 students used the internet each day. We know that internet use goes up over holiday periods when young people are at home. Increased internet use is often spread over a range of activities such as gaming, listening to music, watching films or series, or chatting with friends.  However, with increased use, there are increased risks.

1.  Do you know who you are talking to?

The survey indicates that 45% of high school students are regularly in online contact with people they have not met face-to-face, and 21% are in daily contact.

If you were walking down the street, would you stop and talk to a stranger?

No.

Why do you talk to a stranger online?

Often, we talk to strangers online because we feel safe in our homes. Because we feel safe, we drop our guard. 

Also, when we don’t know who we are speaking to, it is easy to build a false sense of what that person is like.  However, if we meet the person face-to-face, they will be different to how we imagine them.

Know who you are talking to.

1.  Sexting

An increasing number of young people said they had received unwanted sexually explicit material and pictures.  56% of female students said they had received sexual material, up from 54% in 2019 and the proportion of boys who had received sexually explicit material also increased from 27% to 30%.

2.  Cyberbullying

Bullying and cyberbullying continue to be an issue for many students.  36.2% of the 16,500 young people reported they had been bullied, cyberbullied or both.  Older students are more likely to have been cyberbullied.  41.4% of students who were cyberbullied had nasty messages or pictures sent about them to other young people via mobile phone, internet, or email. 

YLS is running a campaign reminding everyone over the Christmas period; we have options if we experience cyberbullying.  We can:

  • Tell the person to stop.
  • Block the person; or
  • Report the person to the online platform or the e-Safety Commission.

There is much that is enjoyable, fun and educational online.  However, we need to exercise care and be good digital citizens towards each other:

  • Don’t engage in cyberbullying.
  • Don’t send inappropriate messages or pics
  • Enjoy chatting with friends and people you know.
  • Enjoy using the internet safely.

 

  – Written by David Kernohan, Director of Youth Legal Services

 


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