Online Safety


When thinking back to my childhood, I recall my parents and teachers teaching me about the importance of 'stranger danger' when I was walking home from school. These days children need to be taught this, but we are now living in a time when they also need to be taught how to keep themselves safe from strangers when using technology within their home. Using technology can be such a wonderful experience, but sadly there is a risk that our children may get caught up in difficult, troubling and perhaps even frightening situations that can have an enormous impact on their future mental wellbeing. Many parents think it won't happen to their child, but unfortunately it can so easily happen. We must be vigilant and be aware of our children's online safety.

So how do we keep our kids as safe as possible? The following checklist of useful tips and advice may help you... 

Set Expectations

Talk to your child about the types of behaviours required when using technology. For example, what apps are safe to use and what is appropriate content to view. This will be different depending upon the age of your child, and what you feel comfortable with. For example, at Claremont, we do not condone the use of ‘Fortnite Battle Royale’, as it portrays behaviours associated with violence, is a platform for potential cyber-bullying and promotes obsessive behaviours. Technological options like parental controls can help, but it needs to be teamed with online safety education, and being aware of the impact certain games may have on your child’s behaviour and safety. As far as parent controls, check out Dr Kristy Goodwin recommended this to our parent community too.  If you are unsure of age restrictions for different apps and games, I recommend you refer to eSafety Commissioner at

Understanding What Your Child Does Online

Talk to your child about the function of the internet. Why are they using it? Who is in their network? What information do they share? Are they using the internet to learn, to communicate and create friendships with others, to create music or videos? Really listen to what they have to say – what might seem like ‘just a game’ to you, could in fact be a way for them to connect with people who have similar interests. Keep in mind that while connecting with friends online is a good thing, there is always an inherent risk of harm. Monitor and talk to your child about their ‘friends’. Showing an interest in the things they do helps build your understanding of what their online world looks like to them and creates a relationship between you that makes it easier to have more difficult conversations in the future.

If You Don’t Understand It, Try It

As parents, you need to understand the technology your child uses to better understand the challenges that they may face online. Explore the websites and apps your child uses to improve your online knowledge, and take the time to read terms and conditions. You could even ask your child to show you how it works, as a way to start conversation around online safety.

Set A Good Example

How often do you use your laptop or smartphone at the dinner table? Keep meal-times for family conversations and make this time one that is device free. Reflect on your own use of social media. How many ‘angry’ posts have you published? Take a look at the way you use technology while your child is around. If you notice something that doesn’t sit right with you – change it.

Teach Them The Basics

Once your knowledge of the types of websites and apps your child uses is up to scratch, teach them the basics of online safety – here are four ideas to start with:

1. Strong passwords A strong password helps protect the information on your online profiles or accounts. Teach your child how to choose strong passwords, by reading how to choose a good password.

2. Information to protect online. Have a conversation about the importance of not sharing personal information online such as:

Login details and passwords; Bank account details; Home address; Phone numbers; Birthdate; or Personal information that could be used to guess security questions for online accounts. You should also talk about personal details your child may be asked to share online, such as location and the school they attend. Some apps allow you to share your current location with friends, or publicly. Please spend time explaining to your child that they must not share their personal details or location with anyone.

3. Not Everything Is As It Seems

It can seem like common sense to adults, but sometimes kids do not understand that people are not always who they say they are online. Talk to them about friending or communicating with people they don’t know offline. They should never friend someone online that they don’t know personally offline. 

4. Digital Footprint

Teach your child that they need to think about what they post online, and that what they post online leaves a ‘digital footprint’ about them. Whilst many of these things may seem like issues that teenagers may deal with, don’t underestimate how young children may be faced with these challenges.

Social Media

Do you know how old children should be before they get social media accounts? The minimum sign up age for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube is 13 years of age. No child at Claremont College has reached that age. Be mindful that the majority of cyberbullying incidents happen though such social media sites. I have been informed by teachers that some students here at Claremont have their own accounts, and they are not set to ‘private’ or ‘friends only’. Please be familiar with the safety centres that most social media organisations have for staying safe online. Start with how to block people, how to report content and how to use the privacy settings. We encourage parents to hold off social media as long as possible but definitely not until your child starts high school.