Today is Safer Internet Day in Australia, a day aimed at raising awareness about online safety. We are all online more than ever before – from work meetings and video conferencing, to church services streaming online, remote learning and other forms of online community gatherings; the list is seemingly endless. Given the amount of time we now spend in front of a screen, it’s critical that we all work together to make online spaces an enjoyable and safer place for ourselves and our families.
While the tools on offer have helped us all stay connected through a lengthy time of isolation, unfortunately, it has also resulted in the rise of online abuse. Research shows that children and youth are particularly vulnerable to cyberbullying, unwanted contact from unknown persons, abuse in online gaming and exposure to inappropriate materials. Online abuse also disproportionately impacts women and girls.
As a church we recognise the critical work @eSafetyOffice is doing in helping us all create safer environments for people in online spaces. Their theme this year is Play it Safe and Fair Online. We are committed to ensuring that our online spaces can be a place where all feel safe.
The eSafety Office provides some vital resources that can be utilised regarding online safety. There is guidance for parents and young people about how to safely engage online, and how to identify and deal with different types of online abuse.
If you have been the victim of or targeted for online abuse. Remember that it is not your fault and that you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to speak up. There are ways to get help and proactive steps you can take to protect yourself from further abuse.
Here are some other helpful tips for ensuring you are having a safe online experience:
- Be aware of your inputs. Notice how you feel after the content you are consuming. Do you feel uplifted, encouraged, or entertained? Or do you feel heavy and condemned? Only consume content that is beneficial for you.
- Know that your worth is not determined by the number of likes or comments you get on social media.
- Be mindful of mindless scrolling. Put down your phone (or other device) for extended periods of time, walk away and do something else.
- Talk to a trusted family member, friend, or health professional if you feel like you have been the victim of online abuse.
- Make sure that you have valued social connections and community experiences in person. These connections also help you recognise what is and isn’t helpful online behaviours.
- Make sure your contribution to online communities (including comments) are respectful and informed.
- Model good online behaviour and be an advocate for safely speaking up about online abuse.
Let’s always choose to encourage one another, and to Play it Safe and Fair in our interactions with each other personally and in our online spaces.
We encourage you to visit the eSafety website for more invaluable information for online safety:
If you are in danger right now, contact police on Triple Zero (000).
For non-emergencies, you can call the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 or contact your local police station.
Other helplines available:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Kids helpline: 1800 55 1800
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1800 273 8255
Samaritans: 116 123