Sometimes people may find things online they never intended to look at – it could appear in social media feeds, in a search, be sent to you or even in a game. The content could be upsetting, disturbing or even offensive. Netsafe has developed advice to help people who come across distressing content.
WHAT IS DISTRESSING CONTENT?
You may find content online that can be distressing. This might be hateful content, sexual material or illegal material (like age restricted material, extreme violence etc). Offensive or illegal content may include topics, images or other information that could be prohibited in New Zealand. The content can also be upsetting to a young person when they discover it.
IS IT LIKELY THE CONTENT IS REAL?
Some content found online may not be real and it may even be illegal e.g., pornography, hate-sites or objectionable material. If you do encounter anything illegal, it’s important that you do not show or send it to anyone else as this could be against the law. It’s important to get help right away. Netsafe supports people in these situations every day and can advise you on what to do.
HOW CAN YOU GET HELP WITH DISTRESSING CONTENT?
Some of the things you see online can be distressing whether you sought it out or heard about it second-hand. Each person will react differently to upsetting online content. Some people may be confused, have trouble sleeping or even be angry. Here’s some tips that might help you:
- It’s okay to be unsure about how you feel about what you’ve seen or read. It can be confusing, and for many people upsetting.
- Think about talking to a trusted confidant or helpline.
- Be careful about talking to your whanau or a friend about what you’ve seen. They can be a great support, but the content you’ve seen could be triggering or upsetting to them as well. Check in with your friends first to see if they are in the right mindset to support you before talking to them.
- Where possible report the content as it will help keep the content from being seen by other people. You can report to Netsafe or the social media platform you’re using.
- Talk to Netsafe if you’re not sure about what do about something you have seen online.
HOW TO REPORT ILLEGAL SEXUAL CONTENT OR OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL
Offensive or illegal content may include topics, images or other information like age restricted material, extreme violence etc. Objectionable material is illegal for anyone to possess or look at. It includes content which involves children, animals, dead people, cruelty and severe violence. Read more about harmful online content on our website.
You should also compete the form on The Department of Internal Affairs website to report content that you think is objectionable.
MORE ADVICE AND INFORMATION
- Report any illegal content at netsafe.org.nz/report
- If you are school or an educator the advice on our Netsafe Schools site might be more useful.
- It’s important to seek professional help if intense feelings or behaviours persist, you can contact both Lifeline and Safe to Talk seven days a week.
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.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call toll free on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723)
- Online report at netsafe.org.nz/report
- Text ‘Netsafe’ to 4282