Keeping safe online

Online safety is a huge concern for many parents. The Education Directorate have provided this update on what schools do to keep your kids safe, and what you can do at home.

Our Canberra Public Schools are committed to providing state-of-the-art technology and digital learning opportunities for students, which are safe and secure.

Students need to practice their communication and information gathering skills within a secure environment while still accessing information required for learning in today's world. So whether it's working with the internet or communicating by mobile devices, children should feel safe and not be exposed to inappropriate material.

The SchoolsNET network provides students with reliable high speed wireless internet access, which is filtered for age-appropriate access. This being said, the most valuable step we can take to keep children safe is through the partnership of our schools and parent community. It is this partnership and collective responsibility that will help to prepare young people by bringing a greater understanding and awareness of safe online behaviours.

The ACT Education Directorate has partnered with the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner to provide an enriching digital program aimed to educate public school students to be safe online. The program includes a range of virtual classroom events, such as:

  • 'Cyberbullying'
  • 'Being a good bystander'
  • 'Making good choices online'
  • 'Communicating online'
  • ‘Secret security business’
  • 'The internet and the law'

Cybersafety tips for parents and families

Parents and carers can help their children make smart choices about what they find online. To help your children protect themselves you can do the following.

  • Spend time online with your children and check out sites together.
  • Help your children use the Internet as an effective research tool.
  • Learn what young people learn — you need to know about chatting, blogging, message boards, YouTube and social networking.
  • Make your child aware of stranger danger, particularly in chat rooms.
  • Talk to your children about their online experiences, both good and bad.
  • Teach your children about dealing with disturbing material and quitting sites.
  • Teach your children that information on the web is not always reliable.
  • Encourage children to treat others on the net the same way they would in real life.
  • Know the best ways of avoiding spam and using filters, labels and safe zones.
  • Encourage your children to be careful about giving out personal details on the internet.

Supervision tips at home

  • Place your home computer in a public area of your home, perhaps in the room the family spends most time in and not in the child's bedroom.
  • Talk through internet use with your child and set some boundaries for computer use — maybe the time of day they are allowed on the internet, how long they spend online, and what happens if they don't follow the guidelines.
  • Supervise your child when they are working online and remind them about sticking to the agreed guidelines.
  • Let your child know you are around when they are working online with some occasional "shoulder-surfing".
  • Stay informed about who your child is communicating with online. Always supervise them when in chatrooms and never allow them to meet up with new online friends without your knowledge.
  • Most of all, encourage your child to participate in different activities like sports, dancing, even playing outside — and not to be always on the computer, texting or using other communication technology.

Protecting personal information

Parents and carers can do a lot to protect their children from inappropriate online material and their personal information.

  • Download free internet content filters to protect your family online.
  • Delete cookies on a regular basis.
  • Select usernames and passwords carefully. Consider the personal information you may be disclosing in a username or email and make sure your password is not something anybody could guess.
  • Avoid scams that can be sent via email, social networking and SMS. Check the SCAMwatch website ( for more on scams and how to avoid them.
  • Ensure your home computer is protected from viruses and spyware.
  • Ensure your firewall is active and install some parent control software.

More information on protecting personal information can be found on the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner’s website:


Cyberbullying is the use of technology to bully a person or group. Bullying is repeated behaviour by an individual or group with the intent to harm.

Some tips for parents on cyberbullying from the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner include the following.

  • Talk to your child about cyberbullying before it happens. Work out strategies to address cyberbullying that you are both comfortable with, so your child knows what to expect if they do report concerns to you or another trusted adult.
  • Help your child to develop the skills they need to interact safely and respectfully online. Guide their online activities and help them learn to communicate appropriately with friends and family.
  • Encourage children to treat others on the net the same way they would in real life.
  • Advise your child not to respond to any negative messages and to report any negative messages they receive to you or another trusted adult.
  • Reassure your child that you won't block their access to the internet if they report concerns about cyberbullying. Help them to stay connected online and offline to supportive family and friends.
  • Help your child to block anyone who sends offensive content. Most social networking services allow users to block and report someone who is behaving badly.

You can seek professional support or report cyberbullying incidents through the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner and if you do suspect your child is involved in anything potentially unsafe online, please contact your child’s school. ●

Daniel Bray, Program Manager, Digital Transformation, ACT Education Directorate.

This article appeared in ParentACTion, Term 4, 2016. See other past editions of our quarterly magazine.