What we SEE online

Young people might use the internet to search for answers, browse content, download or share files.

While searching online, young people might not be aware of the terms and conditions they’ve agreed to when signing up for sites or apps.

They might see content that is not age appropriate or be exposed to new concepts.

This section looks more closely at what young people SEE online.


The internet allows us all to share content more than ever before. Children and young people often ‘browse’ or ‘search’ the internet to pass time.

This might be through browsing videos (such as on YouTube), using search engines (such as ‘Google’) or searching social media (such as Facebook and Instagram).

Children and young people might use the internet to answer questions they might have, especially questions they may not feel comfortable asking someone face-to-face.

Teenagers might also access websites to learn more about the changes happening to their bodies, as well as information about sex, sexuality and relationships. 

Anyone can post anything on the online, so it’s really important that young people learn to question the reliability of what they see online and the source.

Top tips!

  • Don't believe everything you read online – talk find out who wrote it, what their intentions may be and if you can back up the information from another source.
  • Make sure your child knows which health and wellbeing sites are trustworthy so that they receive advice from appropriate sources.
  • Reinforce with your child that illegal activities conducted online can be traced by police and they may be held criminally responsible for their actions if they are over the age of 10.
  • Help your child to develop digital literacy skills important for assessing the reliability of sources online.
  • Provide your child with a list of mental health and wellbeing support services which they can access online, including www.headspace.org.au and www.reachout.com.au.

Downloading and file sharing

Some examples of popular websites where people may legally download material include:

  • iTunes
  • Google Play
  • BigPond Movies
  • Youtube
  • Facebook

Downloading is when data, files or information is copied from one computer system to another, usually over the Internet.

You might download apps and music on to your phone or games on to your computer.

File sharing involves the making of computer files available to users of a network. It can be through a range of methods such as removable media (such as USB), centralised servers on computer networks or peer-to-peer (P2P).

To share files through P2P, you are required to download and install a P2P application. This allows you to find and download content from other users running the same P2P program. In turn the program installs a server program onto your computer, which then handles the content that you may wish to upload and share for others to download.

Downloading and file-sharing may or may not be legal, depending on whether the file is protected by copyright. A large proportion of the content shared through P2P networks is illegal, so it’s important that you check this before using these networks. 

Is it OK to share or download material?

Uploading or downloading songs, software and movies without permission, or sharing pirated songs, software and movies is illegal.

Just because material is available on a website, or contained in an email, doesn’t always mean it can be freely downloaded. It is a good idea to check the website for permission, or terms and conditions that may apply to downloading material.

This also applies to file-sharing networks through P2P software. Even for personal use, permission from the owner of the copyright may be needed before it is legal to copy the material. 

Beware - some files might have viruses or malware. Check out how to protect your devices.

Top tips!

  • Only download from reputable sources
  • Keep your operating systems up-to-date
  • Install and maintain anti-virus and anti-spyware software
  • Do not open emails from unknown senders
  • Check copyrights, terms and conditions before downloading.

Age appropriate content

Some content may be illegal, inappropriate or unsuitable for some age groups.

It is important to prevent young people from accessing inappropriate material because it may be psychologically harmful.

Remember – children may have access on smartphones, game consoles and other devices.

There are ways to reduce exposure to inappropriate content and the harm it may cause.

Children under 10

It’s a good idea for adults to supervise the use of the internet for children under 10, and explore technology with them. A good idea to start the conversation is to ask them how they use a certain App, or what sites they like. This will allow you to see the kinds of things they are seeing online. You can also use filtering software, parental controls and safe searching.

Tweens (11-12 years)

Children in their ‘tween’ years may want more freedom to explore the internet in private. Even so, safe searching tips and parental controls may still be useful. Discuss safe internet use and talk to your child about what they should do if something upsets them online.

Teenagers (13-17 years)

Teenagers can be more difficult to supervise. They can often bypass parental controls and filters. Teenagers also tell us that they like a certain amount of privacy, and parents not respecting that can hinder their use of technology. Help them understand how to search safely and where they can go to report prohibited content or seek support for inappropriate content they may come across.

Top tips!

  • Discuss safe searching with your child and what to do if they come across something which makes them feel uncomfortable online.
  • Explore technical options such as filters, parental controls and safe searching modes – and tell your child why you are using them.
  • Keep computers and devices in a central room of the house.
  • Know where your children might have access to the internet (friend’s house, school or at home).
  • Ensure you install and maintain anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your devices.

Terms and conditions

Policies and Settings

When you sign up to a social media account or download an app, you are asked to agree to the Terms and Conditions of using that service.

Unfortunately, many people don’t read the fine print and may not apply the most appropriate privacy settings (which are rarely the default setting!). 

Using the privacy settings available on the sites you use can give you greater control over who has access to your information.

Most sites offer several levels of privacy management which you can control.

If you’re not sure how to change your settings, check the help guide for the site or application you’re using.

Also, why not also check out our guides?

Decoding Terms and Conditions

Most social media services have four parts to their terms and conditions:

  • A licence agreement - This allows the service to change, add to, delete, publicly display, reproduce, copy, distribute, sell and use your personal information including your photos, posts, private messages, comments and videos without your permission.
  • Law enforcement disclaimer – This means that these companies can provide information that was posted online to police for investigation purposes.
  • Community guidelines – These are the rules around how to use the service, and consequences for breaking the rules, such as shutting an account down. These guidelines also usually indicate the minimum age requirement for using that service.
  • Privacy policy – This explains what private information the company collects, how it is used and what privacy settings you can use.

Most apps ask you to agree to their terms and conditions before you install them on your smartphone or device. They might also ask for access to your GPS or other information on your phone.

You should also be aware that while some apps are free to download initially, they may require payment to use certain features within the app.

Know what you’re signing up for and how your personal information will be used before you download.

Read more about Apps in What we DO Online.

Top tips!

  • Read privacy policies of sites and applications
  • Use the most secure privacy setting for online accounts
  • Know what information should never be shared online
  • Only have people you know and trust as online friends or contacts
  • Know who your children are talking to online
  • Before you download and install an app, check which features of your device (such as the GPS function) the app wants permission to access.
  • Disable any features on apps which are unnecessary for the app to access


What we do

We develop resources and advice for parents, carers and educators, children and young people to prevent online child sexual exploitation.

Led by the Australian Federal Police, our program includes:

  • Presentations for schools and community groups
  • Online learning resources
  • Activities to do at home
  • Fact sheets and guides
  • Educators resources


What we don’t do

Our program doesn’t cover:

  • Information about general online safety, including cyberbullying
  • Information about cybercrime

For information about online safety visit the eSafety Commissioner

For information about cybercrime visit ReportCyber

Our partners

ThinkUKnow Australia is a partnership between the Australian Federal Police, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Datacom and Microsoft Australia, and delivered in partnership with all State and Territory police and Neighbourhood Watch Australasia.

© Australian Federal Police

The Australian Federal Police acknowledges the traditional owners and custodians of country throughout Australia and acknowledges their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to the people, the cultures and the elders past, present and emerging.