As the school year begins, many parents will be purchasing internet enabled devices to help their children access information as part of their learning.
This Tuesday is International Safer Internet Day, with the event adopting a theme of “online rights and responsibilities”.
Senator Bridget McKenzie predicts 2013 will see more electronic devices in the hands of children than ever before.
“It’s estimated that 90 per cent of Australian high school students have a Facebook account, a smartphone or an internet tablet. The Internet can be a great learning tool and offers a wealth of opportunities for your people,” she said.
“When I talk to parents, they are telling me that even primary aged children have access to iPad minis, iPods, iPhones, laptops, electronic tablets and MP3 players and that many of these devices are used at home and at school. It is a new era of responsibility for parents, teachers and carers, but many are unsure about the dangers of the internet and how to address them.
“Teaching children to navigate the online world and to understand their rights and responsibilities is now as important as teaching children about stranger danger and bicycle safety.
“Many parents don’t realize that their children have their own internet connection in the house – and the key to keeping children safe from online dangers is parents understanding the technology their children are using.”
Victoria’s representative on the Coalition Online Safety Working Group, Senator McKenzie said there are four key questions that every parent needs to ask about the technology their children are using:
1. Does the electronic item provide access to the internet, particularly through WiFi?
2. Does the electronic item allow children to interact with other people online?
3. Can children also use the electronic item to make purchases online?
4. Does the item have parental controls and has your child’s school installed controls to allow content or activities to be filtered or monitored?
The Coalition has also released a discussion paper on online safety and is seeking input from parents, schools, young people and industry. The paper can be downloaded from Senator McKenzie’s website and written submissions sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 29. The Safer Internet Day website is www.saferinternet.org.