With increasing access to the internet for the younger generation, today marked Safer Internet Day, with the aim of promoting cyber safety for all.
Organised by the eSafety Commissioner, the day has a shared vision of making online experiences "better for everyone", with webinars and resources to help Australians start the conversation about online safety.
Findings from research released by the commission show that the internet is an integral part of the lives of Australian teens, based on a survey of 627 people aged between 12 and 17 in September 2020.
Among the findings, it showed that teenagers spent an average of 14.4 hours per week online and used an average of four different social media services.
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Alarmingly, 44 per cent of those surveyed reported having a negative online experience in the six months to September - the top three by someone they didn't know, receiving inappropriate or unwanted content, and being deliberately excluded from events or social groups.
To mark the day, Tasmania Legal Aid has launched a new Being Cyber Safe resource, aimed at increasing a young person's knowledge of the law as it relates to technology.
Tasmania Legal Aid director Vincenzo Caltabiano said it was designed to help young people engage with technology and social media safely.
"I am extremely proud that during COVID-19 when Tasmania Legal Aid was working online, members of our team were able to devise Being Cyber Safe. We are hopeful that it will be adopted in other jurisdictions," he said.
The resource contains three units - using technology safely, respect versus bullying, and sexting.
Tasmania Legal Aid solicitor Stuart Davey said each unit consisted of an overview with ways to explore the topic further.
"If a young person is working through this learning module as part of their school program there are classroom tasks that they can send to their teacher," he said.
"We also invite schools to arrange a follow-up video call with a Legal Aid lawyer to give students the opportunity to review the module and ask questions about the material covered."
With children being able to access the internet earlier and easier than in previous generations, parents are being urged to be vigilant with monitoring their children's access.
Yes Optus Launceston franchisee and parent Robert Elliott said it was important for teachers, friends, parents and peers to be role models when it came to safe internet behaviour.
"That is what creates a safer digital environment for our young children," he said.
"Children today in most cases are accessing the internet and digital content a lot earlier, whether that be at home, at school or with friends, they're getting access through devices a lot earlier than we did at their age.
"It's important that when they're given platforms to access this content, they are provided with a digital license and the necessary information to stay safe online."
Mr Elliott said that while most young people were very clued in on how to stay safe online, cyber bullying remained a big concern.
"It's really important to share with our children that it isn't okay - bullying in any form, verbal physical or digital, is not okay," he said.
"Optus provides a number of free tools and guides on their website that can help parents start those sometimes difficult discussions, or they can come in store or chat to someone about it over the phone.
"There's lots of places to go to help navigate what can be a challenging conversation for those that haven't grown up in that digital world.
"It's hard to see what they're accessing, so it's important to start those conversations earlier, and ensure they aren't sharing their accounts, and that they identify what sites are secure by the padlock in their web browsers."
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