The Australian Communications and Media Authority has provided information for teenagers to help control how they connect with their friends online, and how to manage the risk of unwanted online contact.
Unwanted contact from ‘friends’ or an acquaintance can result in a range of cybersafety problems for young people, including identity theft, cyberbullying, grooming, and unwanted sexual attention. These can leave victims devastated and young perpetrators behind bars.
"Online actions can often have very real consequences. Although it is unrealistic to assume that teenagers will never disclose their personal information online, some basic preventative steps can reduce the risk of harm," said Greg Gebhart, Senior Education Advisor at the ACMA.
The ACMA advises young people who are experiencing unwanted online contact take the following steps:
- Tell the person initiating the contact that you feel uncomfortable and ask them to stop; (they may not realise their behaviour was bothering you);
- Save their details, including their username, the messages they have sent and the date and time they were sent so that you have evidence of the unwanted contact.
- Consider blocking them as an online contact or seeking further help if someone makes you feel uncomfortable online.
- If you need to talk to someone about something that’s worrying you online contact the Cybersmart Online Helpline.
- If you feel unsafe or threatened, contact the police straightaway.
'If young people can be encouraged to talk about where they are sharing their information and the kinds of people they are communicating with, it greatly reduces the likelihood of unwanted online contact and cyberbullying going unnoticed,' said Mr Gebhart.
For more information about Cybersmart, visit www.cybersmart.gov.au.