Talk to your children

The internet is a great place to connect with family and friends, learn, play games and watch videos and TV programmes. But it can also have downsides for our tamariki, rangatahi and young people. They may be exposed to pornography and other inappropriate content, bullied and ‘groomed’ by sexual predators without even realising it.

  • Figure out what they already know
  • Let them know you will support them no matter what
  • Talk about who they can reach out to if they need help
  • Talk about ways to report or remove harmful content.

The Inter-Yeti

‘The Inter-Yeti’ is a digital storybook which has been created as a safe, positive and fun space for children to learn about staying safe online. It covers topics such as online bullying, upsetting & inappropriate content, online grooming, and sharing of private or personal information. It is suitable for children aged 5-11.

As a parent, caregiver or teacher, you can play an important role in keeping your child or students safe by simply talking about these issues. Reading ‘The Inter-Yeti’ together is a great way to start the conversation. Click here to check it out(external link)(external link).

Netsafe has more information about how to talk to your children:
Netsafe's parent toolkit resource(external link)
How to create an online safety planUnderstand online challenges(external link)

Understand online challenges

Children and tamariki find the internet an easy place to:

  • Explore their identity
  • Challenge adult norms and boundaries
  • Experiment with relationships
  • Practice a range of behaviours.

But there is a risk of:

  • Online bullying
  • Unwanted contact
  • Sending and receiving nude content
  • Seeing inappropriate content (such as pornography).

You can better support children and tamariki when you understand the challenges they face online.

Netsafe has more information:
Understanding young people's online challenges(external link)

Manage screen time

Think about the age and stage of your children and understand how they use the internet.

Are they using it to:

  • Learn
  • Communicate and create friendships; or
  • Create music or videos?

This will help you decide how much time you’d like your children to spend online.

Netsafe has more information: Screentime advice for parents(external link)

Know the rating

Movies, TV programmes and games are rated by the Classification Office. Check the rating to make sure it’s suitable for your child's age.

Shows made for sites like Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime are not rated. If you’re not sure if a show is suitable, watch it yourself first.

The Classification Office has more information:
New Zealand's classification labels(external link)

Streaming and video on demand (VOD)

If you see something on a streaming service, on demand, or in a game that may be inappropriate for children:

  • Have a look at the parental controls offered on the platform. They are usually in the profile settings. For more information see Taking control: How to make the most of parental controls(external link) – The Classification Office’s guide to parental controls for some of the main providers, for example Netflix, NEON, Lightbox, YouTube, Amazon Prime, and gaming sites like Steam, PlayStation and Nintendo.
  • If you have already set parental control and laid a complaint with the provider and the content is still easily accessible to children, email

ISPs and internet safety

An ISP (Internet Service Provider) is a company that provides access to the Internet. Customers simply use their modem to connect to the ISP, which then links them to the Internet automatically.

There are many ISPs to choose from, and they should all have information on their websites about privacy settings and parental controls. It’s important to check out exactly what you’re getting before you pick one.

When choosing a provider ask yourself these questions:

  • What is their Internet Policy? They should have one.
  • Do they provide any Internet Safety Service?
  • Do they provide access to filtering software?
  • Do they have "safe" website access?

You can contact your ISP for more information about internet safety, parental controls or questions about settings. If your existing ISP doesn’t offer sufficient safety options to meet your family’s needs, you should consider switching to one that does.