Owling: strange things happen on the internet. Photo: Bruce Clay/FlickrAs a parent if you don’t know your planking from your owling, then today is the day to get up to speed with all things internet – it is international Safer Internet Day.
According to new research commissioned by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, 78 per cent of all young people said that they were most likely to turn to their parents as their main source of information if they had an issue relating to online safety.
This is at odds with the commonly held belief that kids would not regard their parents as being knowledgeable enough to assist with these issues. The high response rate does, however, underscore the need for parents to be informed about online safety issues.
Online safety for their children is a vexed issue for many parents. Kids are no longer allowed to play on the streets of their neighborhoods for fear of the dangers that exist outside the home. Keeping kids inside has led to increased use of computers where dangers exist but present in different ways. The ACMA research found only 5 per cent of parents had no concerns in relation to their children’s cyber safety, while 70 per cent were concerned about exposure to inappropriate content, 69 per cent concerned about unwanted contact from strangers and 63 per cent worried about cyberbullying.
It is these widespread concerns that has driven this government’s focus on educating parents. To that end, earlier this week Paul Fletcher, parliamentary secretary to the Communications Minister, announced the release of a new online resource for parents, Chatterbox.
“It is important that parents feel confident and capable to answer questions their children have about the Internet. Chatterbox will equip parents with the information to initiate conversations about online experiences,” Mr Fletcher said.
Mr Fletcher has taken a special interest in the online safety area and recently released a discussion paper about proposed policy measures, featuring:
– establishing a children’s e-safety commissioner as a focal point for all government activity in the area;
– developing a complaints system to get harmful material down from social media sites faster;
– examining the need for a simplified cyberbullying offence.
The e-safety commissioner and the process to fast-track the removal of harmful material has raised the ire of the likes of Yahoo!7, Facebook, Google and Twitter – who claim the proposals are an attack on free speech. Fletcher seems unmoved by the challenge, simply focusing on the mantra that “the Government is committed to protecting children from online dangers.”
Submissions in relation the discussion paper, Enhancing Online Safety for Children close on 7 March.
With the proliferation of smart mobile devices now, it is not possible to simply follow the old advice of “just keep the computer in a family room so you can see what the kids are doing”. Kids can access the internet everywhere these days. So the best advice is to have a constant dialogue with your kids to understand what they are up to online and try to set boundaries that they buy into.
Safer Internet Day is as good a day as any to start or continue these conversations with your kids. Plus it is easier to embrace the activities of Safer Internet Day than it is to get excited about 9 April – International Be Kind to Lawyers Day.
Nick Abrahams is the APAC Technology Practice Leader with global law firm, Norton Rose Fulbright and a technology investor. Nick has been on the Government’s Online Safety Consultative Working Group for over 4 years. The group provides advice to government on online safety issues.Follow Nick on Twitter
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.