9 December 2002
ABA releases tips for chatting safely online
The ABA has released a brochure (Download brochure PDF file, 383k/2p) containing safety tips for using Internet chat rooms.
The ability to keep in touch with friends and make new ones is one of the main reasons children and young people will go online over the coming school holidays. This is usually a fun and rewarding experience but, as in the real world, it's not without some risks.
"Chatting online is a great way for children to keep in touch with friends and to meet people from different cultures and backgrounds, but they need to be aware a small number of people they encounter in chat rooms may not be who they say they are, and may have inappropriate reasons for contacting them," said Professor David Flint, ABA Chairman.
Children should take particular care when arranging to meet in person someone they have been chatting to online. By arranging to meet in a public place during the day and taking a parent or other responsible adult with them, much of the potential danger can be avoided.
Professor Flint also warned that even if children don't intend to meet someone in person, they still need to be careful about revealing personal information such as their phone number, photograph, home address or location of their school. "We wouldn't usually give this sort of information to a complete stranger, and children shouldn't post their personal details in chat rooms."
The ABA recommends that parents set rules for their children about using chat rooms, talk to them about who they are chatting with online, and consider using filters that block access to certain chat rooms and/or prevent personal information from being disclosed in a chat room.
"We are not suggesting that young people should be prevented from using chat rooms altogether - these simple, practical steps will help to ensure that children enjoy chat rooms safely," said Professor Flint. "If a child does encounter questionable behaviour in a chat room, they should leave the chat room and tell a parent what's happened. If a parent suspects that an adult is engaging in inappropriate activity, they should contact their local police," he said.
The chat safety brochure is the fourth in the ABA's 'Cybersmart Kids Online' series. Brochures on avoiding spam, selecting a filter and general Internet safety are also available, and copies can be obtained by contacting the ABA on 02 9334 7700, or by email to email@example.com. Further Internet safety information is available on the ABA's website for families, www.cybersmartkids.com.au.
Media contact Donald Robertson, ABA Manager Media and PR on (02) 9334 7980.
The ABA administers Australia's co-regulatory scheme for Internet content, established under Schedule 5 to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. As part of the scheme, the ABA provides advice and assistance to families about a range of Internet safety matters, primarily through it's Internet safety web site for families, www.cybersmartkids.com.au and related printed resources.
Chat rooms are particularly popular with young people, offering them the opportunity to keep in touch with friends and 'meet' new people from different backgrounds. Unfortunately, there have been instances of paedophiles using chat rooms to contact children with a view to meeting them in person. In some cases this has led to sexual abuse of the child.
Because of the vast and global nature of the Internet, awareness and education are seen as the best strategies in avoiding such situations. The ABA works with international Internet safety bodies such as Childnet International to raise awareness of Internet safety issues and provide parents with information that helps them supervise their children's Internet usage. Childnet's Executive Director Mr Nigel Williams recently visited Australia and assisted the ABA with the release of its chat safety brochure and the ABA is working with Childnet on a range of other innovative Internet safety initiatives.
Australian Broadcasting Authority - www.cybersmartkids.com.au and www.aba.gov.au/internet/
Childnet International - www.childnet-int.org and www.chatdanger.com
back to top