AFP encourages early conversations about online safety
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > AFP encourages parents to have ‘the talk’ about online safety, even for under 5s

AFP encourages parents to have ‘the talk’ about online safety, even for under 5s

by Freya Lucas

January 24, 2024

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) have called on Australian families to have age appropriate conversations about online safety “as early as possible.” 


Research conducted by the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) reveals 87 per cent of children aged between four and seven years old are using the internet, and 16 per cent of those are unsupervised, meaning these conversations are important for children even in the years before school.


Advice for under fives 


For those children under five years of age, the recommendations for children who are playing games, watching videos, or using the internet to communicate with family and friends are as follows: 


  • Introduce and talk about what the internet is, and how it allows us to connect with other people.
  • “My phone is connected to the internet and I can send a photo from my phone to grandpa’s phone”
  • Supervision online is always recommended for young children. This looks different for every family, but it is important to be aware of what your child is doing online in case they need your help.
  • Implement strong privacy settings and consider parental controls on the devices your child uses. This can give you more control over what they do online, and limit the possibility of interaction with others.
  • Encourage your child to go to you if they see anything online that makes them scared or uncomfortable.


Data shows just over half of parents and carers regularly discuss online safety at home but almost all children regularly use technology for educational purposes or entertainment.


Only three per cent of participants who participated in the research listed online grooming as a concern.




The AFP-led ThinkUKnow program has released a range of age-based tips and content to help parents and carers keep children and young people safe online across all stages of development.


AFP Commander Helen Schneider said parents and carers needed to begin regular conversations with their children about online safety during early childhood to help children and young people understand the challenges they may face online and how to get help and support.


“The AFP is urging everyone to continue the chat throughout their child’s development and stages of life to ensure they are protected every step of the way,” she said.


The ACCCE have received reports involving young children being able to access social networking, live streaming and instant messaging online, and ThinkUKnow has been developed in response. 


ThinkUKnow provides factsheets, videos, presentations, guides, children’s picture book Jack Changes the Game, home learning and family activities to help with these discussions including the following:





“We have developed a range of age-appropriate resources through ThinkUKnow that help parents and carers navigate these conversations with their children, covering a range of online activities from video and image sharing, instant messaging and online gaming, along with using social media in a safe way,” Commander Schneider said.


“ThinkUKnow is about providing Australians with the tools they need and empowering them to keep our community’s most vulnerable – our children – safe online.”


Advice for children and young people of all ages


Regardless of the age of the child or young person, Commander Schneider offers the following advice: 


  • Ensure your child knows that they can go to you for help and support if something goes wrong online.


  • If a child or young person is scared of how their parents or carers will react, they will be blamed for what happened, or have their device taken away, they may not seek help, making them more vulnerable to exploitation.


The ACCCE brings together specialist expertise and skills in a central hub, supporting investigations into online child sexual exploitation and developing prevention strategies focused on creating a safer online environment.


Members of the public who have information about people involved in child abuse are urged to contact the ACCCE. If you know abuse is happening right now or a child is at risk, call police immediately on 000.


If you or someone you know is impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation, support services are available.


Advice and support for parents and carers about how they can help protect children online can be found on the ThinkUKnow website, an AFP-led education program designed to prevent online child sexual exploitation.


For more information on the role of the ACCCE, what is online child sexual exploitation and how to report it visit the ACCCE website.

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