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May 14, 2023

Former detective to host webinar on online safety

Category Media Release.

TFSS has partnered with former Child Protection Detective Kristi McVee to host a free online webinar for the wider community this Wednesday 24 May, from 6pm until 7pm.

Kristi McVee spent 10 years on the police force as a specialist child interviewer and detective senior constable.

“By the time she had left the police force, the number of online issues had increased exponentially. If we don’t talk about online safety with our kids and have agreed rules for use, it is like giving children access to the web is like dropping them in a playground and walking away,” said Ms McVee.

The need to create healthy boundaries with social media is clear.

"The pro (with social media) is that it opens up the world, the con is it opens up the world," she said.

It is hoped that this webinar will help break down some barriers for parents, carers, families, and teachers in approaching conversations about technology with young people.  

Kids are curious, TFSS family preservation manager Bryarne Bielefeld said, and adults can't control what children see and hear.

“If kids hear something that doesn’t make sense to them. They are often going to their peers for an explanation or looking up on their phone, which is not necessarily the safest place.”

“It is much harder to monitor phones these days compared to what parents did when they were kids. Yes, they could potentially send text messages, but they could not get all these videos or photos that you can now.”

To prevent harm from the number of photos and videos available online, Ms Bielefeld encourages parents to confront awkward conversations, at a younger age in an age-appropriate manner.

“We do not have many local statistics to report on regarding online safety issues, mainly because the issue is often hidden in the background.

“What we can say is that this issue is spreading, and we are seeing more parents ask for support or advice as their child has seen an inappropriate photo or someone who they trust take advantage of them.

"With teenagers, we see much more stalking and monitoring in teenage relationships than before, because that can happen on phones. Parents should invite open and honest conversations about technology in the household", said Ms Bielefeld.

Interested community members can register via the events section on the TFSS website.