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Young people find the internet an easier place to explore their identity, to challenge adult norms and boundaries, experiment with relationships and practice a range of behaviours. However, many of the consequences and implications of these things are amplified online. Get our advice on how to understand the online challenges young people may face in this section of the Online Safety Parent Toolkit.


For many parents, as they were growing up, it would have been impossible to imagine what the internet would look like, what it was capable of, and the ways it could help us. It goes without saying then that understanding the challenges that exist online for young people is not something that most parents can draw from using their own experiences.

By contrast, our young people have at their fingertips access to so many digital opportunities – to stay connected to friends and loved ones, to learn, to play, to explore and to understand the world around them. But with those wide-ranging opportunities there are risks and challenges. Understanding what they look like and how you can help your children navigate them is one of the most important aspects of modern parenting.

Netsafe’s research has identified that nearly 19 percent of New Zealand teens have experienced an unwanted digital communication that had a negative impact on their daily activities. The same research identified that most teens response to unwanted contact was to block the person, ignore the situation or report the problem to an adult. While the challenges young people face varies depending on their age and what they do online, there are some key challenges every parent should know about.


The internet offers endless opportunities for people to learn, connect and be entertained, but there are also some downsides that are important to understand. While the challenges each child may face will be different, there are some risks that are worth understanding in more detail.

  1. Online bullying
  2. Unwanted contact
  3. Social media risks
  4. Sexting and nudes
  5. Pornography
  6. Screentime
  7. Upsetting content

Netsafe has prepared easy to understand advice about a range of challenges parents often say are important in their homes, but also the most difficult to work through. These guides will provide a sense of the main issues to be aware of, and some strategies to help minimise the harm if things go wrong online. 


You’re currently within the ‘Understand’ section of our Online Safety Parent Toolkit where online risks and challenges are explored.

This is the first step in our seven-step framework designed to help parents and whānau with digital parenting in a rapidly changing world. We recommend reading through each step of the Toolkit as this will guide you on how to support your child to confidently access digital opportunities and reduce online harm.


If you’re concerned about the immediate safety of you or someone else, please call 111. If you want help or expert incident advice, you can contact us. Our service is free, non-judgemental and available seven days a week.


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