A Coalition Government would focus on cyber-safety to better protect young people online, according to Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester and Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie.
With an estimated 2.2 million Australian children actively engaged in online activities, Mr Chester said it was important for parents to take a close interest in the issue.
“The internet is a great resource and can be a tool to help educate our young people in the 21st century but it is open to inappropriate activity and parents must be aware of the risks involved,” Mr Chester said.
“Social networking platforms are a major form of communication for young people but they do carry particular risks. Personal information can be obtained quite easily if young people don’t use appropriate privacy settings to protect themselves.
“As parents we have a duty of care to make sure that we build our children’s resilience so that they are capable of dealing with online risks.
“We also need to encourage them to act responsibly online and report any suspicious activities.”
Mr Chester said it was becomingly increasingly difficult for parents to keep up with fast-moving technology to effectively protect their children from risks associated with the internet and social media platforms.
He said a Coalition Government would establish an Online Safety Working Group to consult with key technology, education and cyber-safety leaders, parents and young people, as well as other interested parties, to further develop its online safety policy.
“The Coalition is committed to helping parents, carers and teachers deal with online risks and will better assist and equip them to protect young people online,” Mr Chester said.
“Feedback is currently being sought on the challenge of protecting young people from the dangers of the internet, so that it can help the Working Group make the best recommendations.”
Senator McKenzie said she was pleased to be invited onto the newly‑formed Online Safety Working Group and contribute to policy development given her personal interests and experiences.
“The modern online environment is not just websites and email, it now includes interactive activities like social media sites, SMS messaging, skype, apps and games,” Senator McKenzie said.
“The internet is also no longer just accessible through the household PC with mobile phones, tablet computers and game consoles all fitted with internet-capable technology.
“As a parent, secondary school teacher and lecturer, I am acutely aware of the risks associated with the internet and social media and am interested in the impact of technology on human relationships.
“We know that many children have been tormented by online bullying and there are real issues about privacy and young people having access to sites which are inappropriate for them.”
Over coming months, the Working Group will undertake forums across Australia as well as a series of events online. It will report in mid-2012.
Anyone wanting to make a submission to the Working Group should contact Senator McKenzie’s Bendigo office on 5441 4251or email firstname.lastname@example.org