Online safety

Quick answer

As Australia continues the transition towards a digital future, online safety has become more important than ever, making it essential to understand potential security threats, and learn how to protect yourself when you’re online.

This also means ensuring your children have a positive online experience and educating them about the risks associated with browsing the web.

General online safety tips

The continued evolution of the internet has provided us access to an endless amount of content that helps keep us informed and entertained like never before.

While there are some obvious advantages to this, the amount of unmoderated content means we need to be aware of internet security issues such as viruses, hackers and privacy controls.

To help protect you and your family when they’re online, it starts with education and through a handful of simple security measures, you can greatly reduce your exposure to potential threats.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Ensure you have the most up to date security software installed on all your devices and set them to automatically update
  • Run a full scan on your devices from time to time
  • Do not install software programs until they’re scanned by antivirus software
  • Keep your operating system and browsers up to date
  • Don’t jailbreak your own device, as this can compromise built in security features
  • Remove or quarantine any malware that’s detected
  • Don’t click on any links if you’re not certain where they lead, or click links that are marked as spam
  • Secure your computer/tablet or mobile device with a strong password/passcode
  • Never click on pop-up alerts, as this may result in more pop-ups appearing. Instead, close your browser application

In addition to these tips, make sure you’re extremely careful about entering private information like passwords and payment details when you’re online. This can be done by ensuring you use a secured connection through trusted websites.

Online safeguards for parents

The internet is constantly changing, and it can be challenging to keep up to date with your children’s use of technology, especially as some children may have better technical skills than you do. However, children and young people still need support and guidance so they can continue using the internet safely.

One way to help your children have a positive online experience is to promote general discussion about their activity online in order to educate them about the risks associated with browsing the web.

  • Ask them about the sites they like to visit and what they enjoy doing online
  • Ask how they stay safe online. What tips do they have for you, and where did they learn them?
  • Encourage them to help, perhaps they can show you how to do something better online or they might have a friend who would benefit from their help and support
Some other guidelines that can help protect your children online include:
  • Supervising your children as much as possible when they’re online and encourage family involvement by having the computer in a public area of the home
  • Educate them to not give out personal information to anyone online, including their email address or passwords
  • Blocking inappropriate websites
  • Involving you when they want to meet anyone who they've met online
  • Not filling in forms or agreeing to any contracts, agreements or downloads of any kind without your involvement
  • Not opening emails from addresses they don't recognise

Content filtering

Filters are programs designed to limit access to certain types of content on the internet.

The use of filters is not mandatory in Australia under law or Industry Codes, however families can find filters a useful addition to online supervision, and for that reason Communications Alliance supports their availability and have created a program that promotes certified Family Friendly Filters.

To quality as a Family Friendly Filter, a filter must undergo testing to ensure it meets the criteria as set by the relevant industry code.This includes effectiveness, ease of use, access to support and an agreement by the company providing the filter to update the filter as required by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Some of the available features filtering products provide are:

  • Customisable content filtering for web browsing
  • Multiple profiles that can be created with variable settings
  • Setting internet usage time limits
  • Remote access to software
  • White and black listing of websites
  • Social network monitoring
  • GPS location monitoring
  • Email/SMS alerts
  • Ability to block certain apps

There are a range of filtering products available on the Australian market and you can search for products across the web by using search terms such as, ‘filtering software’, ‘web filtering products’, ‘family filtering software’ and ‘parental control filters’.

Further Resources

There is plenty of information available in regards to online safety, and below are sites we recommend visiting to help ensure the internet remains a safe place for you and your family;

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