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Raising tweens and teenagers

Tips for communicating effectively with teens, help them build confidence and self-esteem, how to deal with cyber bullying and practical ways to stay safe online

Sexting and cyber safety

To a teenager, sharing photos between friends is fun, and sending provocative photos might seem innocent and flirtatious. However, sexting can leave your child at risk of public humiliation, social isolation and cyber-bullying. Images can be uploaded onto social networking sites where they can be easily shared or passed around.

Talking about the risk of sexting and online communication is a good start, but it’s also important to understand the technology you’re dealing with.

Your child may use jargon that can be difficult to decipher. See our guide on Understanding teenglish: what are your kids really saying?

Also, read up on image-based abuse. This is where an intimate, nude or sexual image is distributed without the consent of those pictured or someone threatens to distribute such images. Image based abuse can involve photographs or video images and has other names such as IBA and revenge porn. Anyone who has been the target of image-based abuse should know it's not their fault.

Educate yourself about the different social media platforms that exist too such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter as well as about how they work.

In addition you can:

  • talk to your child about the consequences of sexting
  • monitor your child’s online presence, especially social networking sites
  • warn your child about cyber predators, image-based abuse and that images can end up in the wrong hands
  • give your child clear rules on what they can and can’t do with their mobile phone, and monitor text messages
  • encourage your child to be open with you if they receive provocative images or are the target of cyber-bullying
  • never allow your child to meet up with new online friends without your supervision
  • remind your child that there are key pieces of information they should never share online, including addresses, photos and video footage. It's also good to remember that a social networking page (such as Facebook or Instagram) is a public place and they should think twice before posting comments or uploading photos and information.

Resources for parents

ThinkUKnow what young people see, say and do online? is a website created in collaboration with the Australian Federal Police. Parents and carers will find helpful factsheets and videos on cyber safety in the Parents Portal. ThinkUKnow also provides presentations and training for parents, carers and teachers and young people from Kindergarten to Grade 12.

The Office of the e-Safety Commissioner website has a large range of relevant and up-to-date resources parents can use to help keep their children and teens safe online. It also hosts a site developed by young people for young people called Young and e-safe

When using social networking sites, make sure your child knows who to contact to report abuse or bullying – starting with you. You'll find lots of information on reporting abuse to social media sites and to authorities on the Office of the e-Safety Commissioner website.

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Last updated: 24 Sep 2019