Back to School the Cyber Safe Way

Media Release, 29 January 2014
  • 52% of young people regret posts they have made online
  • 82% did not realise the long-term impact of their posts
  • 99% of young people agree education is the key

Aussie school kids are being urged to think twice about what they post online in 2014, as the first wave of digital natives, children with an established online presence, get ready to start high school.

Telstra’s Cyber Safety survey asked 1,001 young Australian adults aged between 18 and 25 years to reflect on what it has been like growing up with social media and the internet and what advice they would give those entering high school today.

Eighty two per cent of people surveyed did not realise the long-term impact their posts could have, with more than two-thirds saying they were concerned about their online reputation. Fifty-two per cent said they regretted content they had posted with 48 per cent admitting that almost half of what they posted was done so out of boredom.

When asked what advice they would give their younger self about the internet, the number one tip provided by those surveyed was ‘think carefully before posting’.

Telstra’s Manager of Cyber Safety, Shelly Gorr, said the results show that today’s culture of online sharing has changed society’s notions of privacy forever and that it is important to equip children with tools and advice to participate in the digital world safely.

“While the online world creates amazing learning, entertainment and sharing opportunities for young people, we need to equip them with the skills to deal with what they may encounter in the digital world.

“We know that parents play an important role in educating young people about how to stay safe online. As families get ready to go back to school we’re encouraging parents to talk to their children about their digital lives, what it takes to be safe online and how to create a positive digital footprint.

“Ongoing conversations with your children about cyber safety essentials such as when to share personal information online, handling approaches from cyberbullies and applying social network privacy settings could avoid a lot of regret in the future,” said Ms Gorr.

Ninety-nine per cent of the 18-25 year olds surveyed believe teens need cyber education and 85 per cent believe this education should come from parents. Forty-five per cent of those surveyed said they wished their parents had told them to ‘think’ before posting.

Sixty per cent of survey respondents admitted they are more concerned now than when they were as young teens about the impact their online reputations can have in the offline world.

Rosie Thomas, the cofounder of anti-bullying and leadership organisation Project Rockit, said the Telstra research shows that children heading into the schoolyard armed with digital devices should be empowered to stand up for themselves and others online.


“Young people can take ownership of their own online brand and key to this is understanding how to make the most of the online opportunities for themselves and their mates.

“Social media and the internet is an awesome place for breaking down social barriers and harnessing people power to do the right thing. We need to give young people the tools to make the most of everything the internet offers, including the strength to stand up and be leaders in both the online and offline worlds,” said Ms Thomas. 

Telstra’s back to school online safety tips


  1. Talk with your kids about their digital lives and let your children know you’re always there for them
  2. Protect personal information – teach your children how to turn on privacy settings
  3. Encourage children to ‘think before they click’, to think about content and the consequences of posting it
  4. Be an offline supporter. Encourage kids to have some screen-free time each day and turn off devices at bedtime
  5. Teach kids to treat others the same way they’d like to be treated online and be zero-tolerant to rude or mean online behaviour
  6. Don’t just talk about the right thing to do; be a role model with your own digital habits.


  1. Protect your personal information. Turn up privacy settings, use strong passwords, change them regularly and don’t share them
  2. Think before you click – think about content and the consequences of posting it
  3. Remember, your phone doesn’t rule your life! Have some screen-free time each day and turn off devices at bedtime
  4. Treat others as you’d like to be treated online
  5. Talk to an adult you trust if you if someone you know is being cyberbullied or you see something online that upsets you.

For more information about staying safe and enjoying the online world, head to Telstra’s Cyber Safety page.

About the Research

This research was conducted online by Pure Profile on behalf of Telstra in December 2013 on a representative sample 1,001 of younger Australians aged 18 to 25 years, from across Australia in both metropolitan and regional areas. For more information about the findings and to arrange an interview please contact Ingrid Just below.