For most parents – keeping tabs on the online world – can be an overwhelming task.
It seems like every other week, there’s a new app, game, or website that’s potentially harmful for kids.
While most children have a positive experience online, and the internet can be a fantastic resource for education and fun, unfortunately there are pitfalls and dangers.
Nine-year-old George, a student at Brookfield Primary School is a step ahead thanks to a cybersafe family environment and new skills gained from a recent Life Ed bCyberwise session with educator Michele.
“As a family, we are constantly trying to maintain a dialogue about being cybersafe and savvy,” says mum Anna.
“When George came home from his Life Ed session, he said some great things about keeping his microphone off when online, not sharing passwords, and he explained that if a random person that you don’t know jumps on while you are playing a game, you shut them down or turn the screen off.”
George and his Year 3 classmates took part in Life Ed’s new and updated bCyberwise module, where students investigate their use of tech and the positives and negatives of being online; their rights and responsibilities in terms of respectful online behaviour and how to deal with unwanted contact and unsafe situations.
It’s an important lesson for young people, with data from the Office of the eSafety Commissioner showing that 38 per cent of young people (aged 8 – 17) used the internet to chat to someone they did not know and 33 per cent of young people (aged 8 -17) report unwanted content/contact online.
The bCyberwise module uses the ‘Recognise, React, Report’ strategy, which enables children to recognise the clues the body gives when they may be unsafe, react in appropriate ways and report and seek help.
Anna says the Life Ed session also helped George understand online reputation and the concept that many interactions and behaviours online, leave a permanent digital footprint.
“He was really quite shocked that your history is there forever,” Anna said.
“He knows how important it is not to put any personal details online and if anyone’s asking you to do something you don’t feel comfortable with to tell someone about it.
“Even when they are using their school device, through Education Queensland, they are on a school system that monitors inappropriate behaviour. They have to be really savvy; much savvier than we ever used to be.”
Anna says having older siblings has also made George aware of some of the pitfalls of using any device that connects to the internet.
“My older son started using public transport this week and I got him a phone. Already we are having a conversation around social media because a lot of his friends are using it and we have said absolutely not.
“As a parent, I appreciate the support of Life Ed and also the school and the different resources that parents and children are being connected with to keep reiterating the message about cybersafety, cyberbullying and cyber ethics.
“If they are hearing it from multiple sources, it’s a good thing.”
Anna says all three of her children have experienced the Life Ed program and loves that it has evolved to address today’s issues.
“I remember Life Ed coming when I was at school in Toowoomba. I think it’s great that the program is staying relevant. Obviously, body and health are still important, but the way the program has added more strings to the bow – it’s addressing the issues parents and children need help with today.
“If we’re all reiterating messages about health, sex ed and cybersafety it’s got to be a good thing.”