May 15, 2020
Most of us have been spending more time online and on apps to stay socially connected and entertained. Although technology is helping us cope with this period, spending more time online also means that we can be more exposed to negative experiences and dangers. Learning about how to reduce our risk online and deal with difficult situations is important in ensuring we have safe and positive experiences.

The top 3 online risks that Australians aged 8 to 17, and their parents, are concerned about are:

  1. Unwanted contact: Any communication that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. 1 in 3 young people are contacted by strangers online, which is risky. But unwanted contact can come from people you know too.
  1. Inappropriate content: Any images, videos or written words that are upsetting, disturbing or offensive, including content that is violent, illegal, hateful or spreads false information. More than half of 12 to 17 year-olds have seen real violence that was disturbing.
  1. Cyberbullying: Bullying that takes place online, which can include things like mean comments/messages, exclusion, tricking or humiliating someone using fake accounts, or sharing photos/videos that make them feel bad. 1 in 5 Australians aged 8 to 17 have experienced cyberbullying.

Understanding Image-based Abuse

Image-based abuse is a specific type of cyberbullying where someone shares, or threatens to share, an intimate video/image without the consent of the person pictured. Intimate images include not only sexual or naked images, even if they are photoshopped/not real, but also images of a person without religious or culturally significant attire that they would normally wear in public.

People under the age of 18 cannot consent to their intimate images being shared or posted. This means that taking, having or sharing intimate images of anyone aged 17 or younger is image-based abuse and a crime, even if the young person pictured said it was okay.

Tips for keeping safe online:

  • Read up on apps and games on eSafety’s Guide before using them, especially how to protect your privacy and report inappropriate content
  • Pay attention to and abide by age restrictions on websites and content
  • Activate the “safe search” filter when using search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo7
  • Resist the urge to respond to cyberbullies as it usually makes things worse. Often bullies say hurtful things to get a reaction, which they might try to use to get you in trouble.
  • Report, block and unfollow inappropriate users on whatever platform being used (e.g. social media, app, game, website/forum)
  • Think critically about content that might be spreading false information by talking with an adult and asking yourself:
    • Has the story been reported anywhere else?
    • Have you heard of the organisation publishing the content?
    • Does the content’s website and address look genuine or could it be a copycat?
    • Is the content believable?
  • Look out for warning signs that someone could be dangerous to keep contacting:
  • You have a gut feeling something is wrong
  • Their online profile does not match up with what they say
  • They contact you frequently, switching between different platforms
  • They ask you if anyone else has access to your device or if you’re alone
  • They ask you for favours and offer you things like money or followers
  • They make comments about liking your looks and body
  • They ask personal questions (e.g. if you’re dating anyone, if you’ve been kissed)
  • They get angry and impatient when you don’t respond straight away
  • They are clingy, pushy, overly friendly and give you too much time and attention
  • They insist on meeting and make you feel guilty or threatened if you say no
  • They ask you to keep your friendship secret
Written by Jessica Driscoll on behalf of the MLC Counselling Team

News & Events

View More
August 5, 2021
10 MLC Students Recognised in Premier's VCE Awards
10 MLC graduates have received a Premier's VCE Award for outstanding achievement in their 2020 studies.
Read More
June 24, 2021
Year 11 Student Wins Premier’s Spirit of Democracy Prize
Applying for a prize is a great way to unearth a new passion, discovers Premier’s Spirit of Democracy Prize winner Jasmine Xu.
Read More
May 31, 2021
Reassuring update - COVID
Updated 4.00 pm 31 May - A staff member was not infectious whilst at the College campus.
Read More