It’s a challenging, terrifying and grisly subject, but with online technology now being the primary source of entertainment in households across the region, ‘childhood grooming’ is something that has the potential to makes its way into the lounge room of many homes.
Without adequate barriers in place, the anonymity of the digital world opens the door for predators to attempt contact with children through a variety of ways.
As the Office of the eSafety Comissioner advises:
“If your child spends time online, there is a chance they might meet someone who could make them feel uncomfortable. Unwanted contact is any type of online communication that your child finds unpleasant or confronting.”
Because grooming can happen over a long period of time, parents may not recognise the signs something is happening – particularly if one of the strategies being used by the predator is to warn the child not to tell anyone about the communication.
Therefore, though it’s a difficult subject, talking and keeping communication channels open between you and your child is a key way to protect them. Chat about examples and how you would react, and equip kids to know the signs.
Ways they are at risk include:
To minimise your child’s vulnerability, the Office of the eSafety Commissioner advises to encourage your child to:
If they have already done something online you don’t approve of – don’t be angry. Instead, reassure them that coming to you is always the right thing to do. Talk through the situation with them and help them find a solution. If it something serious, gather evidence such as screenshots, show them how to block any contacts and report to the appropriate authorities if necessary.
iPads and iPhones come equipped with some very effective filtering options in place. Head to the Parental Controls section to set up.
Another option is using a third-party filtering software. Two of the most common in Australia are:
Yomojo FamilyEye: A parental control solution that manages a child’s activities straight from your own mobile. Set the rules on which websites your children can access and keep them away from inappropriate internet content. Block apps and games you don’t want to be running on your kids’ devices. Control the camera feature on your child’s device. Track their whereabouts and receive notifications when your child leaves or enters a safe area.
Family Zone: Operated through a desktop portal, you can manage screen time, set routines for study, play and sleep, keep content child-friendly and remove adult content for safe searching. You can also restrict social media, and manage social apps and in-app purchasing. This system also extends to the home’s network using their Family Zone Box.