Harmful Digital Communications Act: What every parent needs to know

How can I keep my kids safer online?
When it comes to online safety, it’s pretty simple and a little common sense goes a long way!
It helps to imagine the online world as a bigger version of the real world. Just like in a big city, there are good places, and not so good places – as well as laws (like the new Harmful Digital Communications Act) designed to help protect us all.

Digi-Savvy parents teach their kids the same rules online as they do in real life: avoid strangers, don’t give out personal information, and talk to a trusted adult if you see anything that makes you uncomfortable. And advice for parents is simple: don’t be afraid to say no! You wouldn’t let your kids watch an inappropriate movie or wander into a nightclub, so you should also set limits on which websites, games and apps are okay to use.

It’s important for you as a parent to be up to speed so if anything does go wrong, you know how to give the right advice.
The safety issues we hear about most are sexting and cyber bullying. Sexting simply means exchanging images of a sexual nature. Often young people can feel pressured into sending images, and they don’t stop to consider the potential consequences. Cyber-bullying encompasses cruel or upsetting TXTs, emails or messages and are the online version of playground bullying. Kids need to know it’s not okay to be the target – or the bully. We’ve put together some expert tips on how to prevent and deal with cyber bullying here, or you can go straight to cyberbullying.org.nz.

And if you need more formal help, the new Harmful Digital Communications Act (HDCA) specifically discusses children and teenagers as being susceptible to “harmful communications”. This act includes new measures to help victims, ways to simplify the process for getting harmful communications off the internet quickly and effectively, and new criminal offences to penalise the most serious perpetrators. You can read more about the HDCA here.

If you are concerned about a particular mobile number, Vodafone Blacklist is a free service available to all Vodafone customers that makes it easy to block unwanted TXT and PXT messages. You simply create a list of NZ mobile numbers you want to block. Find out more about Vodafone Blacklist here

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