R oUr kids OK online?

WA educators are now pushing for changes in schools and the community to raise internet awareness and protect kids from social media.

The use of internet has increased with most schools requiring students to use technology like iPads and computers.

A teenage boy surrounded by technology.
The internet comes with risk and responsibility which has created a decline in our young people’s mental health. Photo: Zoe Ostler.

Nagle Catholic College High school teacher Sandra Carr said schools were part of the problem by insisting children get these devices as part of the education system.

“When we talk about children getting savvier and smarter with technology and the internet, the key word is children.

“They don’t have the emotional or psychological intelligence to deal with the content that is being put in front of them when schools increase their access to these things,” she said.

On September 8 a graphic video of a US man who committed suicide on a Facebook livestream went viral on TikTok.

It is unknown how many people have seen the video with many among them being school children who use TikTok for fun.

Ms Carr said she was horrified by the situation and created a petition to encourage government intervention with regards to the app.

“As a teacher and a mum, my reflex was to protect the kids at school who presented quite stressed,” she said.

The petition has since been taken down due to concerns about drawing more attention to the video.

“All I was going to do was inspire people’s curiosity, and curiosity is what drives young people mostly,” Ms Carr said.

The TikTok video was circulating during R U OK? Day on September 10, when people were sharing mental health resources all over social media.

In the past few years many WA schools have started to include educational presentations on the importance of internet awareness.

Surf Online Safe presenter Paul Litherland said his goal was to educate and provide guidance to young people by travelling to over 440 schools across Australia.

“It is important to me to come out to schools and not just criticise or scare kids off the internet. I think that is counterproductive,” he said.

Mr Litherland was a WA police officer for more than 20 years and worked in the Technology Crime Investigation Unit from 2009 to 2014.

He says the top two issues affecting kids on the internet today are online gaming scams and sexual exploitation, and both affect mental health.

“All we can do is explain the risks and get that education out there in regard to parents being aware and the broader community being aware,” Mr Litherland said.

National Mental Health Month begins in October and it will see more awareness raising shared online.

If you or anyone you know is struggling and need someone to talk to, please reach out and call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit