The following statistics, released in February by the Office of the eSafety commissioner, will be of little surprise to parents of today’s digital-savvy teens.

  • Australian teenagers spend an average of 14.4 hours a week on line
  • 8 out of 10 play games online with others
  • 9 out of 10 use their time online to watch videos, chat with friends, research and listen to music
  • Youtube, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat are the most popular social media sites for teens
  • TikTok is steadily growing in popularity (38% use it, compared to only 12% four years ago)

However there is one statistic to emerge from the new Digital lives of Aussie teens research that may surprise parents, and that is the fact that the majority of teens want more online safety information given to them by the people they trust.

The background

The research, released in February 2021, is based on a survey of 627 teens aged 12-17 in September 2020.

Almost half of the teen surveyed (44%) had a negative online experience in the six months before the survey.

That negative experience included being contacted by someone they didn’t know (30%), receiving unwanted content (20%) and being excluded from social interactions (16%).

The good news

The positive takeaways from the survey include the fact that teens know there are proactive things they can do to protect themselves.

More than 80% of teens took some form of action after a negative online experience.

And three quarters of teens want “more online safety information delivered from organisations and people they trust”.

Those trusted groups they look to include:

  • their parent/carer (38%)
  • their school or an online safety class (43%)
  • a trusted website (40%) 

What parents can do to support their teens

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner is a government agency dedicated to making the internet safer for everyone.

Their website contains a dedicated portal for parents, parents, children and diverse groups.

During February and March 2021, they are also running a series of special ‘Safer Internet Day’ webinars for parents and carers, which will show parents how to support young people to have a safe experience online.

The topics include

  • starting conversations with your child about their online friendships and positive ways to deal with changing relationships
  • understanding the rights, laws and community expectations that govern social media use
  • where to seek help if your child is involved in a cyberbullying incident.

Find webinar dates and register to take part.

More information

Parents can download the complete survey report: Digital lives of Aussie teens.

Resources for talking to younger children about digital safety are also provided on the eSafety website, including a new picture book released in February 2020 that is free to download or watch in a digital version, read by popular children’s entertainer Jimmy Rees