From the Principal

Staying Safe Online - Children and Young Adults

A recent research report published by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner focuses on parents’ experiences raising children in a world of online activity and connection.

It should come as no surprise that parents play a pivotal role in keeping their children safe online.  Importantly, though, the report highlights the very real concerns parents have about their capacity to deal with online safety issues.  The report notes two key areas:

  • Parents display a general lack of confidence about having to deal with their child’s negative online experiences.
  • Despite its perceived importance, parents are not proactive when it comes to seeking and receiving online safety information.

A new mini-series, “The Hunting”, will be airing shortly on SBS (1 August).  It focuses on the very serious issues surrounding eSafety for teenagers and the impact on the individuals, their peer group, school community and parents.  I have encouraged all of our staff at Pulteney to engage with the program, and I encourage parents to do so too.  An informative article by author Rebecca Sparrow provides a review of the program here.

Cybersafety is not something that only the few need to concern themselves with.  It affects us all. For example, research indicates 12 percent of 10-14 year-olds share their personal information online.  6 in 10 young people play multiplayer games online. Of these, approximately 17 percent, or 200,000+ young Australians, experienced in-game bullying in a 12-month period. Our wellbeing and pastoral programs at Pulteney contain specific instruction and support for our students in relation to such things; however, as those who have a responsibility for the safety and welfare of our children and young people, we all must consistently promote those messages of empowerment and safety, and model the appropriate behaviours ourselves. 

I encourage all parents to talk regularly with your children about their privacy settings on social media or invite them to share their observations of negative behaviours they have seen online.  And having written this article, I am about to check in on my own privacy settings on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn as I have not done so for a while!  We all have the opportunity to start a conversation and set an example and, in the process, we refresh our own understanding of the potential risks and safety issues that exist.

I also recommend all parents take some time to explore the excellent website of the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, particularly the resources section designed specifically for parents: https://esafety.gov.au/parents/big-issues. The content on this site is practical, well written, supported by research and provides step by step guides to broach the subjects of cyberbullying, online pornography, sexting, screen time, gaming and privacy with your child or young adult.

Of course, should you wish to explore any of these matters with School staff, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher, Head of School, Head of House or Head of Student Wellbeing, Steven McCulloch and members of Pulteney’s Wellbeing team.

Together, we can support our children and young people to not only navigate, but to thrive safely in this hyper-connected world in which we live.

Anne Dunstan
Principal

References:

Office of the eSafety Commissioner. (2019). Research. [online] Available at: https://esafety.gov.au/about-the-office/research-library [Accessed 25 Jul. 2019].

Sparrow, R. (2019). Every parent needs to watch 'The Hunting' with their teen. [online] SBS. Available at: https://www.sbs.com.au/topics/life/family/article/2019/07/24/every-parent-needs-watch-hunting-their-teen [Accessed 25 Jul. 2019].