Keeping our young people safe online


Keeping our young people safe online

Monday the 30th of May, 2016

Recently we had Internet expert Brett Lee in to discuss his insights on how to keep our young people safe online. Check out his five tips.

Brett Lee is not the Australian cricketer parents may have expected when they signed up to attend our session on how to keep our young people safe online. Brett is the first version of Brett Lee – a police officer, detective, community worker and specialist in the field of undercover Internet child exploitation investigations.

Brett has a unique and important perspective on cyber safety. He has a considerable amount of experience around the world with a variety of school communities and organisations, all of which have aimed to increase awareness around Internet safety and reduce the activity of online child predators. Brett has important insights for parents, students and teachers on how we should manage the Internet in sensible ways, while acknowledging the wonderful aspects of communication and learning online. Recently he spoke to students, a full school staff meeting, and to parents.

Brett had some incredibly good advice for parents around the use of technology. In fact, he says that what we are dealing with is not about the technology, it’s about the people. Like any new invention such as cars, if we put in place the right controls like putting on our seat belts, we learn to automatically do it without questioning. He reminds us that simple basic messages are important and he outlines these in five key points:

  • Use parental controls – Brett emphasises that the Internet is not a private place – it opens the door to three billion people, so it is highly important to learn about parental controls so that you can check what is happening online – never post photos of family or friends without privacy settings
  • Set clear rules and boundaries – set limits around the use of online time – do not allow phones in rooms at night, manage what is accessible and do not allow pin numbers – the Internet is not a private space
  • Stay current – not necessarily with a high tech knowledge, but knowledge of what young people are doing online – social networks connect people, that is all they do and they make money out of it – they are not concerned with your reputation or issues that arise because there are dishonest or dangerous people out there
  • Take charge of the technology – actively manage what your young people can and cannot do – we do this in the physical world, and the cyber world is no different
  • Communication is key – remind your young children that they may experience harm on the Internet, and that if they do, never give your name and personal details, and always tell your mum or dad if you have any interactions that make you uncomfortable

Brett says that online programmes like Snapchat often assure people that images disappear once they are sent. However, when young people sign up, they often don’t read in detail about user acceptance, and Snapchat clearly says that multiple images may be kept. He suggests that parents be wary about judging the appropriateness of any app based on the name, the logo or popularity – e.g. “my friends are all using this app”. Some apps have almost convinced young people that sending naked photographs is normal behaviour – this is not the app encouraging this behaviour, it is people operating beyond our current values and we must make it clear that this behaviour is a criminal offence. We must make sure that we have the same values in our physical and cyber world – it is all real life and the same laws apply.

We thanked Brett for his incredibly interesting and at times very humorous presentation. He is very knowledgeable and we also endorse not only his simple messages, but the noticeably higher levels of responsibility shown by our girls as they learn to manage their cyber world as it certainly is a part of our reality.