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Online safety and combating extremism
Online safety and combating extremism
Victoria's parliamentary inquiry into the rise of far-right extremism has confirmed that it is real. Here's how to protect children from it.
Alexander Pan avatar
Written by Alexander Pan
Updated over a week ago

Following a parliamentary inquiry by the Victorian government into the rise of far-right extremism in Victoria and how social and mainstream media has led to the proliferation of misinformation, it's been found that children as young as 10 are being recruited by the state's neo-Nazi groups radicalised into their racist and offensive ideology.

In light of this worrying trend, we've put together some resources for parents to help educate children on combating online extremism and developing digital intelligence (ability to adapt your feelings and behaviour in response to challenges you might face online), what to do to combat violent or inappropriate online content, and how to stay safe online.

If you need support or just someone to talk to, our Sonder support team is available to chat at any time.

What is radicalisation and extremism?

Radicalisation is when a person's beliefs go from being conventional to being radical, and they want a drastic change in the status quo of society. Extremism is when someone holds extreme ideological, political or religious views that are often at odds with the rest of society. This goes hand in hand with radicalisation in that someone can be radicalised into adopting an extreme ideological, political, or religious view that's far different from their established pattern of behaviour.

This does not necessarily mean that a person will become violent, but it is a complex process in which the person will develop and adopt attitudes and behaviours aimed at substantially changing society, which are usually significantly different from most members of the community. However, this becomes a problem when a person uses fear, violence, and terror to justify their beliefs and cause. This is called violent extremism.

Educational resources for parents and young people

The Australian Government's eSafety Commissioner provides comprehensive resources for parents, young people and children on exploring and countering violent or inappropriate content online.

To help young people and children develop their digital intelligence, the eSafety Commissioner offers a free role-playing video game titled The Lost Summer that teaches its players about respect, critical thinking, resilience, responsibility, and empathy.

For younger primary school age children, there's an online safety picture book titled Swoosh, Glide and Rule Number 5 that teaches them about making positive choices when online, and proper behaviour if they come across inappropriate content.

For more comprehensive educational resources, head over to the eSafety Commissioner website for parents and for young people here and here.

How to combat violent or inappropriate online content

Online spaces should be safe for everyone, but there may be times where you may come across violent, inappropriate or disturbing content. Due to the lack of regulation on online content, there's a risk of young people and children coming across sensitive and inappropriate photos, videos or messages. To help combat this, there are a number of important steps that can be taken:

  • Reporting offensive or illegal content

    If someone sends you a link to material that makes you feel uneasy or unsafe, or you see something online you think might be illegal or dangerous, you can report it to eSafety.

    If you come across other content you think is offensive or illegal you can report it to the website, social media service, app or game it was posted on. You can find direct reporting links in the eSafety Guide.

  • Block, delete and unfollow

    If someone repeatedly sends you content you don’t want to see, block, unfollow or delete them. For more information on how to block and unfollow people in specific social media services, apps and games, see the eSafety Guide.

  • Check your privacy settings

    It’s a good idea to check your privacy settings to help prevent people from sending you content you don’t want to see. Find out more about privacy settings in specific social media services, games and apps in the eSafety Guide.

  • Get help and support

    If you do see something online that is distressing, leave the page immediately and talk about it with an adult or someone who can support you. Sonder's support team can help provide you with the right help and resources if you need it.

Related reading:

If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app to connect to our team of qualified, caring health professionals.

Information sourced from: ABC, eSafety Commissioner, and Living Safe Together.

Image credit: The Social Network

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.

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