Susan McLean’s no-nonsense approach to cyber bullying is keeping our kids safer in the online world.
The cyber safety expert was in Launceston on Wednesday to speak with parents and students about how to navigate websites, social media and apps.
Ms McLean worked for several years as a police officer and through her work, has seen the horrors that unfold online each day.
She said parents today had safety in the real world grasped, such as teaching their children not to speak to strangers or not to leave the front door open, but it was a different story online.
“The same parent or child who has a grasp on real-life safety goes totally the opposite online,” Ms McLean said.
“You might engage with someone you don’t know online, so if a stranger came to your door wouldn’t let them in but you do online.”
She said that while kids might be tech-savvy, they did not appreciate the risks they faced.
Ms McLean said that while Tasmania was once a safe place from the rest of the world due to its remoteness, that was not the case anymore.
“The whole world is now in Launceston through the internet,” she said.
“All the amazing people you can connect with are here, but all the not so amazing people that physically couldn’t get to Launceston because it’s a long way away can come into your child’s world through the internet.”
With social media sites growing by the day, students are faced with making decisions never thought about before.
“The main issue is cyber bullying – being harassed and humiliated and abused online or having photos that you might have shared in trust re-posted,” Ms McLean said.
Ms McLean’s message to parents is simple – be the parent.
“You are not your child’s best friend, you are their parent and you need to make those parental decisions,” she said.
“If a site has an age restriction, obey it, it’s there for your benefit and it is the site saying young people can’t come there.
“Use the security setting the sites offer you – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have security settings but they don’t help if you don’t use them.”
Ms McLean said parents should block unfriendly users, copy the information and report them to the site.