An Australian cyber-safety expert has warned parents that not enough of them realise allowing children onto the Internet is letting them play in an adults’ world.
Addressing an E-Smart conference for teachers, at St Ambrose Catholic Primary School Concord West, Justin Coulson said not enough of the adults in the cyber world are safe.
“Parents say: “You know what? It’s OK, we’ll give the kids a device and away they go”, said Dr Coulson who runs an independent company Happy Families.
But Dr Coulson, a psychologist and academic, said it’s not that simple – or safe.
So, the objective of the day was to educate teachers about the main issues surrounding cyber-safety for children and how to implement a new program called ESmart.
He said ESmart included a suite of offers that was world-class such as ESmart library and digital licences.
“Digital licenses (for students) are like a pen licence – a certificate of qualification that you have been through the ESmart program,” he said.
Judi Fallon, Schools Program Manager from the Alannah and Madeleine Foundation told the conference that schools have the most problem in getting parents involved in their children’s learning – especially managing the Internet.
She said most parents feel nervous about teaching their children how to operate on line because they think the children know more.
“We don’t give a 17 year old a set of keys and say “teach yourself how to drive” or ask a three year old to stand on the side of a highway and ask them to cross without getting hit – we need rules and boundaries at school and home,” said Mrs Fallon.
“At parent information night you might only get seven parents, so the digital licence came through as a very good resource for getting parents involved because they can go through the digital licence program with their children at home and then the children also work on it at school,”
“Parents can have that conversation with the students working through eight modules with them covering privacy settings and what to put online,” said Mrs Fallon.
Once they complete the eight modules successfully the students get their digital licence.
She said Google have given free access to the digital licence program to every Year 6 child in Australia and so far there have been 300,000 licences awarded.
Almost 400 state and Catholic schools in Australia and 120 in NSW are signed up to the ESmart program.
The ESmart Digital Licence Program was organised by the Alanna and Madeleine Foundation.