Online and Social Media Safety


    What is Social Networking?

    Social networking is a method of communication with people through online platforms such as  Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and TikTok.

    Over the years, social networking has become an important part of life for both adults and teens. The popularity is due to the ability to meet the needs and interests of a vast majority of people. For teens, it's also a way to socialise with friends, by sharing the latest events, photos and videos.

    Social Networking Safety Risks

    The main risks of having access to social networks for children and teens include:
    • Being exposed to inappropriate or upsetting content, like mean, aggressive, violent or sexual comments or images
    • Uploading inappropriate content, like embarrassing or provocative photos or videos of themselves or others
    • Sharing personal information with strangers – for example, phone numbers, date of birth or location
    • Cyberbullying
    • Exposure to too much-targeted advertising and marketing
    • Data breaches, like having their data sold on to other organisations.
    • Threats of criminal activity, such as stalking, bullying, identity theft and hacking
    • Falling prey to impersonators who can cause damage to their reputation with the very people they are trying to network with
    • Being targeted by online sexual predators

    The Impact of Covid Isolated / Remote Learning and Early Adoption

    Covid lockdowns, isolations and remote education have changed the way we use and rely on social media and online chat/video platforms and arguably made the adoption of these platforms earlier than parents anticipated and were prepared for.

    Children have been 'forced' to be active online for social connectedness and for their schooling and many parents were ill-equipped or didn't consider the safety impacts and considerations due to the immediacy and crucial nature of access.

    The combination of children's curiosity, their tech-savvy-ness and boredom has blurred rules and regulations for families around access, platforms and so much more.

    Despite all of the pressures from children being permitted to access certain platforms prematurely in order to remain connected to their peers, it's never too late to introduce measures that protect your children online.

    Social Media Safety Nets

    Discussing the use of social media with your child/teen around:
    • Their (and their friends) conduct and behaviour online
    • Understanding the risks involved in using social media – e.g. your child might be tagged in an embarrassing photo taken at a party
    • Navigate the risks of sharing personal information - e.g. turning location off on posting selfies
    • Discuss rules around what your child needs to do if someone online (that they don't know in real life) asks for their personal details if someone is mean or abusive online, if someone posts embarrassing photos of your child, or shares information that links back to them.
    The Role of Parents/Carers/Guardians

    It's up to parents, carers and guardians to find out more about social media as platforms, parental controls and functionality as they are always changing and considerations of allowing (i.e. not allowing) your child/ren to access social media platforms with age restrictions which can be difficult if your child’s friends are using social media platforms before they’re old enough and your child wants to do the same.

    Be a United Front

    It's very important that parents are united and agree on the rules and regulations for their child/ren as children will exploit any cracks in relationships and/or parenting styles to gain access, log in, create accounts and potentially put themselves and/or their friends in danger.

    Resources from the Australian eSafety Commissioner

    • Anonymity and identity shielding - allows a user to hide or disguise their identifying information online. While this protects their privacy, it can make it difficult to hold them responsible for what they say and do online.
    • Immersive Technologies - i.e. augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR) and haptics which can be another avenue for cyberbullying, grooming children for online sexual abuse, and image-based abuse (sharing intimate content of someone without their consent, including sextortion).
    • Online harmful sexual behaviours in children and young people under 18 - Online harmful sexual behaviour refers to conduct that occurs when using the internet. For children and young people under 18 years old, conduct that is inappropriate at the age or stage of their sexual development, or that is sexually exploitative or abusive, is considered harmful behaviour.
    • Sextortion - a form of blackmail that involves threatening to share an individual's intimate image or video online unless they comply with certain demands.
    • Doxing - the intentional online exposure of an individual’s identity, private information or personal details without their consent.
    • Deepfake trends and challenges - Where digital photos, videos or sound files of a real person has been edited to create an extremely realistic but false depiction of them doing or saying something that they did not actually do or say.
    • End-to-end encryption (E2EE) trends and challenges - is a method of secure communication that allows only the people communicating with each other to read the messages, images or files being exchanged. For example, WhatsApp, Signal, Skype and Telegram — all cross-platform messaging and VoIP voice call services.

    Cyber Safety References and Online Resources

    Online Resources

    eSafety Commissioner

    Helping Australians have safe and positive experiences online.

    Cyber Safety Solutions

    Australia's most highly respected and in demand cyber safety consultancy.

    Safe on Social

    Experts in all aspects of cyber safety training for schools and organisations.

    Think U Know

    Preventing online child sexual exploitation.

    Internet Matters

    Helping parents keep their children safe online.

    It's Time We Talked

    Supporting young people with explicit sexual imagery.

    Protecting your Children Online / Safety Apps

    Family Zone

    Family Zone provides a complete cyber safety solution for your family across every device, everywhere


    OurPact is the most comprehensive parental monitoring control App and family locator

    Family Time

    Monitor and manage kid's mobile phone activities like location, internet, phone logs, App blocking and geofencing


    mSpy™ allows parents to monitor and manage the online activity of their kid's iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet and protect them from cyberbullying, online predators, adult content, suicidal thoughts, drug use and other dangers.

    Screen Time

    Simple screen time management and parental monitoring tools that enables parents to have proactive discussions about digital rules and usage.

    Apple Inc Screen Time

    You can access real-time reports showing how much time you spend on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. You can also set limits for what you want to manage.


    By Julia Cook

    Cliques, Phonies and Other Baloney

    By Trevor Romain, Elizabeth Verdick and  Steve Mark (Illustrator)

    How We Got Cyber Smart

    By Lisa Rothfield-Kirschner and Katarina Matkovic (Illustrator)

    Your Literally Ausome Online and Social Media Guides

    Click in the image below to download your Literally Ausome Social Media and Online Contract

    Click in the image below to download your Literally Ausome Netiquette Guide