The Internet is now a big part of everyday life and for some people it can be difficult to live without – it is both a great tool and a risk all at the same time. It is therefore important to put practices in place to protect the child in your care from the dangers of Internet use and overuse.
If you are not a big user of the Internet yourself, protecting others from it and putting practices in place may feel difficult and unfamiliar. If this is you, that is okay. Speak to your case manager about what you can do to protect the child you are caring for.
If you are more familiar with Internet use, it is important you teach the child the necessary skills for them to manage it on their own as they grow older and become more independent.
Regardless of your own personal use, it is important you remain up to date with the current uses and issues regarding the Internet, including social media sites.
You should feel comfortable talking to the child from an early age about the benefits, uses and dangers of the Internet. These conversations will educate them prior to issues arising. Putting in place clear boundaries for the child about device use is also a good idea – consider their developmental age and their current level of understanding of the Internet. You will also need to consider how many different ways the child can access the Internet in your home, such as through a computer, TV, game console, tablet, smart phone and other mobile devices.
It is also important to ensure Internet access in your home is as protected as possible. This will require the use of virus protection software and appropriate parental controls on devices.
More information about Internet safety, including how to help the child in your care have a safe and enjoyable online experience, is available from the Australian Government’s eSafety website.
Carer training on Internet safety may also be available at times – talk to your case manager if you are interested. Schools and childcare centres also occasionally host information sessions about Internet safety, so check with your school or childcare centre if there are any upcoming sessions.
Facebook and other social media are part of an ever-changing world and it is critical you understand photos and identifying information about the child in your care should not be placed on any social media site. Once a photo is posted, it can be accessed by anyone and used for any reason, including if your profile is marked as private.
All children in care must be protected from potential problems or exposure to predators that can arise from online posting. The use of social media is something you should always discuss with your case manager. Decisions will be made on an individual basis; however, the initial starting point is, to not post any photos or comments that could identify the child in your care. It is a criminal act to identify a child as being subject to a Care and Protection Order or in out of home care. Also see ‘Internet Safety’.
Just like with the Internet more broadly, it is important you remain up to date with the current uses and issues of social media, even if you are not a social media user yourself, so you are more prepared to identify potential risks if they come up.
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