Parents called to maximise benefits and minimise risks in cyber safety workshop

20 Apr 2023

By Jamie O'Brien

Cyber Safety Event
A young woman looks at her cellphone. Following California’s successful lead, legislation in a number of states aims to impose on social media giants fines, age-appropriate design codes, and user age restrictions for opening accounts. Photo: OSV News/CNS file, Paul Jeffrey.

Parenting in the digital age can be complex and challenging, Perth Director of Safeguarding Barbara Blaney has said.

Speaking in promotion of the upcoming online workshop for Cyber Safety and Digital Wellness, Ms Blayney said while there are many benefits for our children being online, there are also risks.

“As the trusted adults in our children’s lives we can support them to maximise the benefits and minimise the risks,” Ms Blayney said, a former Police Officer.

“You will leave this workshop with conversation starters, practical strategies and resource recommendations to support you,” she said.

The online workshop will be delivered by leading cyber-safety expert Kaylene Kerr from eSafeKids.

Some of the topics that will be discussed in the online workshop include how technology affects developing bodies, brains and behaviour, screen time and healthy boundaries, social media and gaming, explicit content and pornography, online grooming and catfishing, interpersonal conflict, managing emotions and digital reputation and parental controls for safer devices and homes.

“As the trusted adults in our children’s lives we can support them to maximise the benefits and minimise the risks,” Perth Archdiocese Director of Safeguarding Barbara Blayney has said, ahead of a workshop for Cyber Safety and Digital Wellness. Image: Supplied.

The online workshop takes place Tuesday 2 May from 7pm to 9pm and is FREE event. Bookings are essential. For more information go to

Internet has led to exploitation, says Pope Francis

Speaking 14 November 2019 at the Promoting Digital Child Dignity — From Concept to Action, Pope Francis highlighted that while digital technologies have led to advancements in communication and education, they also have led to the exploitation of children on the internet.

The “spread of images of abuse or the exploitation of minors is increasing exponentially, involving ever more serious and violent forms of abuse and ever younger children,” the Holy Father told participants at the two-day conference sponsored by the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences.

“The challenge before us,” he told them, “is to ensure that minors have safe access to these technologies, while at the same time ensuring their healthy and serene development and protecting them from unacceptable criminal violence or grave harm to the integrity of their body and spirit.

The conference brought together religious leaders, academics, policymakers and tech industry leaders from around the world to discuss ways to combat the exploitation of children online.

In his address, the pope said the church “senses the duty to approach these issues with a long-term vision,” especially as the church continues to confront the clerical sexual abuse crisis.

“In recent decades, from painful and tragic experience, the Catholic Church has become profoundly aware of the gravity and effects of the sexual abuse of minors, the suffering it causes and the urgent need to heal wounds, combat such crimes and establish effective means of prevention,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis addresses leaders from the tech industry at the Vatican, 27 March 2023. He called for an “ethical and responsible” development of artificial intelligence. Photo: CNS/Vatican Media.

Child exploitation on the web, he continued, is due in part to “the dramatic growth of pornography,” which is “the fruit of a general loss of the sense of human dignity; frequently it is linked to human trafficking.”

Additionally, he acknowledged the tension that exists between the idea of the digital world as “a realm of unlimited freedom of expression and communication” and the “need for responsible use of technologies and consequently a recognition of their limits.”

“The potential of digital technology is enormous, yet the possible negative impact of its abuse in the area of human trafficking, the planning of terrorist activities, the spread of hatred and extremism, the manipulation of information and — we must emphasize — in the area of child abuse, is equally significant,” Pope Francis said.

Although parents have the primary responsibility for raising their children, he said, it is becoming increasingly difficult to “control their children’s use of electronic devices.”

Pope Francis recommended that tech leaders “cooperate with parents” to develop new regulations to restrict children’s access to pornography.

“Man’s creativity and intelligence are astonishing, but they must be positively directed to the integral good of the person from birth and throughout life,” Pope Francis said.

“Every educator and every parent is well aware of this and needs to be helped and supported in this task by the shared commitment born of a new alliance between all institutions and centres of education.”

Courtesy Catholic News Service