Recommended guidelines for parents from the Centre for Internet Safety
Security settings for social media set to the highest levels of privacy and limit access for viewersConsider how images or comments could be used before posting
Restrict the amount of personal information posted online including date of birth, addresses and interestsEncourage children to speak about both good and bad online experiencesTake any concerns about online safety to the authorities
The warning comes amid reports that US authorities have dismantled an underground online child exploitation ring that targeted children using social media.
Websites uncovered by authorities also included tutorials to guide members on ways to communicate with minor boys, including posing as girls on social media sites, in order to coerce the boys into creating sexually explicit videos.
“There are so many profiles on social media site. Most of them are legitimate, but as we know in this case, a lot of them have been falsely set up to groom children… They’re very good at setting up profiles and knowing all the latest trends and linguistics of young people. They can purport to be one of their peers very easily.”
Mr Phair said it was important that parents were proactive in ensuring their children were cautious online.
“They really need to take an active involvement in what their children… do online, the sorts of place they go to – websites, chat rooms, social media sites – and have regular conversations with them,” he said.
Mr Phair said parents and young users should set high privacy settings on social media sites, as well exercise caution about the type of photos being posted online.
He said “revealing type selfies” could potentially cause problems in the future.
“At a whim it might seem like a great idea, but it could come back to haunt you,” he said.
“The internet never forgets.”
Social media played an integral part of the global child pornography ring targeted by US authorities.
Fourteen American men have been charged so far and more arrests are expected around the globe.
The alleged 27-year-old ringleader operated two encrypted, member-only, websites that had 27,000 members and contained more than 2,000 videos, authorities alleged.
After infiltrating and then examining the videos, investigators identified 251 minors from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada, Belgium and the US.