What do a comedian, content creator, and university researcher have in common? Well, if we’re talking about podcaster Em Rusciano, TikToker Kat Clark and Professor Amanda Third, it’s that all three mothers are passionate about creating online spaces where their children can feel safe. With the trio of women recently appearing in a panel discussion spotlighting the new safeguards that Snapchat is introducing to further protect teens, here’s how they hope to personally rise to the challenge.
Em Rusciano: It’s more important to know your child, than the platform
As a self-confessed “Maximalist Power Queen” writer, Singer, Comedian and podcast host (of Emsolation), Em Rusciano wears many hats. However, “mother-of-three” is one that she rocks most proudly.
Admitting she sometimes needs her own offspring to educate her on the new features of their favourite social media apps, Em instead prefers to focus her energy on understanding her own kids in an attempt to keep kids safe online.
“Knowing your child is vital for ensuring their online safety. Because it allows you to understand their interests, monitor their online activities, and build trust and open communication. This familiarity enables you to set appropriate boundaries, identify red flags, and provide personalised guidance,” she says.
It also helps you spot signs of cyberbullying or predatory behaviour, offer emotional support, and promote responsible online behaviour. This ultimately safeguards your child in the digital world.
Kat Clark: Create safe spaces offline!
Alongside her status of TikTok Creator of the Year (4.9 million followers can’t be wrong!) and AACTA winner for Best Digital Creator, Kat Clark is the “mum of 2 sassy queens”. The kind she often collaborates with to help her create her viral content.
Her advice to keep kids safe online, revolves around creating a safe space offline. Where your kids trust you, and you offer a judgment-free environment, and respect their privacy – while maintaining open communication.
“Encourage decision-making and share your own experiences to build rapport. Support their aspirations, validate their feelings, and set boundaries with empathy. Be patient, admit your own mistakes, and model healthy behaviour,” she says.
Kat also suggests teaching digital literacy and seeking professional help for serious issues.
“Ultimately, these strategies foster trust, ensuring your children feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, feelings, and concerns with you,” she adds.
Amanda Third: Small talks can make a big difference
As the author of a number of books (including Children’s Rights in the Digital Age: A Download from Children around the World (UNICEF, 2014), Professor Amanda Third offers a unique professional perspective on digital, social and cultural trends. However, it is in her role as a mother of one that Amanda really takes the opportunity to road test and refine the advice she shares with the many caregivers who are focused on keeping kids safe online.
Ultimately, Amanda believes that parents often feel like they have to either choose to control everything their child does. Or throw their hands up and give up. Neither of these options are viable. And it’s important for parents to recognise that their role is to guide their child on how to be safe online.
“You need to give children the room to explore, experiment, and make mistakes. That will help them realise what they need to do better. And develop the skills they need to recover when things go wrong,” she says. “Children are most likely to approach their parents if they are accustomed to comfortably talking about what they are doing online,” she adds.
Amanda’s advice would be to have routine and regular conversations with your children about their online use, instead of a ‘big talk’ about the digital world. “Keep it to small, everyday conversations in the same way you’d ask them what happened at school,” she says. “If you have these routine conversations, and you’re not too quick to judge but stay open to hearing how things really are for them, two things are more likely to happen. You will learn a lot about how the digital world works and why your child likes going online. And your child will more likely to turn to you for help and support when and if they need it.”
What is Snap Chat doing to keep kids safe online?
Snapchat has always prioritised the safety of teen users. The app is designed to limit communication to friends and trusted contacts. It also blocks strangers from easily connecting, and provides tools for blocking unwanted contacts. Strict default privacy settings and options for location sharing are in place. Reporting tools are also accessible to all, with a responsive Trust and Safety team. Snapchat retains data during investigations, including potential referrals to law enforcement, for safety. The platform also proudly enforces a zero-tolerance policy for severe offenses, disabling accounts, and preventing return. Parental tools are also currently in operation to allow monitoring and content controls.
Among the new protective measures in place Snapchat recently revealed that it will now also include warnings for suspicious contacts, stricter mutual friend requirements, age-appropriate content, proactive detection of inappropriate content, and educational resources for teens and parents. Snapchat’s ongoing commitment is evident in its efforts to ensure a secure platform for teens to communicate while safeguarding against online risks.
To learn more about Snapchat’s safety features, head to snapchat.com