This website contains some useful information on Cybersafety: www.cybersmart.gov.au
Our children are growing up in a world where their natural choice for communication is via electronic media. As adults we are only visitors in this digital world where our children are the natives. Students rely on the computer as the natural source for information and many are logged onto the computer within 30 minutes of arriving home. Figures show that children in grades 5 and 6 are regular visitors to messaging rooms and can have as many as 4 email accounts. Students in Prep to grade 3 can be exposed to sexually explicit information online.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) deals with all issues related to telecommunications, including cyber safety and cyber bullying. ACMA has helpful suggestions for parents dealing with their children's use of all ICT including the internet, ipods, gaming, messenger services and mobile phones. ACMA acknowledges that children will be exposed to ICT constantly in their everyday life and it is unrealistic for parents and teachers to try to prohibit access to these services. The aim is to identify safe and unsafe practice and encourage the use of safe practice only.
The physical location of the computer, especially a computer with internet capability, must be considered. It is recommended that computers are located in high traffic areas where parents can readily monitor usage.
Time allocated for computer use should be discussed with children and agreed upon limits set, just as you would with play outside, sports practice and television watching. It is important to advise children not to pass on any chainmail, particularly those telling students to send the email to a certain number of friends and they will receive good luck, or bad luck if they don't. Not only is forwarding these illegal under the anti-spam laws, but it can lead to identity theft.
Children should only communicate online with people who they have met face-to-face in real life.
Alert children to the correct use of mobile phones - especially now that most of these come with cameras included. Phones are a way of parents feeling that their child is safe and within easy reach, but be alert to phone scams and inappropriate texting. Care must be taken with the images that are uploaded onto the internet form mobiles. It is important to remind children that what goes online, stays online.
Just as we try to make the physical world in which our children live safe and secure, we need to take the same precautions with the digital world.
The Cybersmart website represents a single access point for cybersafety advice across a range of target audiences - children and parents as well as schools. The site includes comprehensive and practical advice for parents, interactive learning activities for children and information about safe social networking for teens. The website also includes a link to the Cybersmart Online Helpline for young people who have had negative experiences online. This Helpline service is operated by Kids Helpline.