Safer Internet Day is a global event that brings together communities, families, schools and organisations from more than 200 countries to help create safer online spaces.

This year the global initiative is celebrating its 20 year anniversary making it a great time to reflect on real-world impacts of advancing technology and online safety awareness.

Sydney Catholic Schools’ psychologist Sandra Reynolds, who has been part of the Child Protection Team since April 2015, understands the importance of safe online learning in the classroom. 

Sydney Catholic Schools’ psychologist Sandra Reynolds

“Children can be easily deceived online, it is far too great a responsibility for them to manage on their own. Guided cyber experiences in the classroom allow for exploration to occur within a safe and supervised environment,” said Ms Reynolds.

“When used safely, online resources and programs can significantly enhance a student’s understanding of a concept.

“Simply said, feeling safe makes learning possible,” she said.

This year’s Safer Internet Day theme is Connect. Reflect. Protect. The theme highlights the need to connect safely and with purpose, reflect before acting and protect ourselves/others by telling someone when something feels wrong. 

“Teachers play such a large role in a student’s school day, making them perfectly positioned to model safe online practices, and teach students about the importance of online safety,” said Ms Reynolds.

“Sydney Catholic Schools is striving to achieve the right balance of learning modes within the classroom, to allow for optimum learning and skill development in all areas.” she said.

Advice for parents

“Parents also play a significant role in ensuring their child has online safety knowledge, and adult supervision to make certain safety strategies are put into practice,” Ms Reynolds said.

“For example, having a ‘no devices in the bedroom’ rule allows parents to keep an eye and an ear out for any inappropriate content. Another good strategy is to set up some ground rules for the home.

“One that I feel is necessary for primary school-aged children is that parents must know their child’s passwords, with the understanding that, from time to time, you will be checking that all online activity is safe,” she said.

Advice for students

Sydney Catholic Schools has also created handy videos for primary and secondary students on key online safety issues, which are available here. The tips, created by SCS’ Student Wellbeing team, encourage students to engage in an online environment, while also remaining safe and proactive.

Primary school students

Here are some tips to support your safety online:

  • Always use the internet under the supervision of your parents or another trusted adult
  • Don’t share personal information online, e.g. your name, where you live, name of your school, your phone number or passwords
  • Always keep your profile private when online – if you play games or communicate online, ensure you talk to your parents before you chat with other people
  • Always ask your parents before sharing or uploading photos or videos
  • If a person or something online makes you feel uncomfortable, confused or worried, talk to your parents or carer.

Secondary school students

  • To minimise the risk of being in an unsafe or dangerous situation, consider accepting friend requests only from friends you know in real life
  • Stop or block online contact with anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe
  • Stop and think before you share or upload anything to social media – it could become part of your digital footprint and may seriously harm your future job prospects
  • Think before you type and press send, and always consider the impact of what you write on the reader
  • Never meet a person you have known or met online – people with bad intentions can create false identities and profiles
  • Make sure your privacy settings prohibit the sharing of any personal information. That way you can stay in control of your personal information
  • Don’t share or upload illegal or inappropriate content as it may have serious social and legal consequences
  • If you feel bullied, unhappy or worried due to the online actions of another person/s, tell your parents or carer immediately about the issue. If you are unable to tell a parent or carer, then contact Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
  • You can find online resources or report online harm at eSafety

Sydney Catholic Schools’ Child Protection Team is on the front line providing expert advice to our schools on student safety and wellbeing matters. 

Click here to find your closest Sydney Catholic school and to start your child’s learning journey.