The Australian government has on Tuesday offered advice for how parents can keep their children safe online, focusing on those in preschool.
Announcing the release of a booklet targeted at those with kids under the age of five, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Online Safety for under 5s, which was developed by the eSafety Commissioner, would help keep more children safe.
“It’s critical we give parents the tools and knowledge they need to have these discussions because the online world isn’t an optional extra in people’s lives,” Morrison said.
“We want to keep young people safe at every age and at every stage.
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“This underscores the importance of the work our eSafety Commissioner does to equip parents and carers with the tools they need to keep pre-school kids safe from the first time they reach for an internet-enabled device.”
According to eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant, Australian children are regularly exposed to harmful online experiences. Her office says 28% of parents are aware of an instance where their child has had a negative experience online.
The booklet is the next phase of eSafety’s “start the chat” initiative, which government has touted will promote safer online experiences for children and equipping parents, carers, and teachers with “practical resources for having conversations about safe and responsible internet use”.
The booklet will be distributed to more than 11,000 pre-schools, child care centres, and early learning centres.
It was released alongside “Safer Internet Day”, a global initiative organised by the joint Insafe-INHOPE network, with the support of the European Commission, and funded by the Connecting Europe Facility programme (CEF).
Morrison declared that Safer Internet Day was another example of how his government has made online safety a priority, encouraging all Australians to “‘start the chat today”.
“Whether it’s combating cyberbullying, guarding privacy, preventing the publication of violent terror content, or protecting against online predators, our government is pursuing a comprehensive agenda to keep Australians safe online,” he added.
Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher said Safer Internet Day “reflected evolving community expectations for online safety and highlighted practical steps people can take for protect themselves and their families”.
“We know that digital technologies play a pivotal role in our day-to-day lives but what many people may not realise is that four out of five parents have children aged between two and five who are using online devices,” Fletcher said.
“94%of Australian parents and carers say their child’s online safety is important so it’s critical they start talking with their children about the skills and knowledge they need to stay safe online.
“Australia’s world-first eSafety Commissioner that our government introduced provides essential resources and practical advice for children, teenagers, carers, parents, and older Australians.”
A year ago, the government announced a grant program, which also marked Safer Internet Day, that was expected to hand out a total of AU$10 million to non-government organisations to deliver online safety education and training projects targeted at children.
Morrison at the time said the funding would help arm children with the capability to “stay safe” online.
“We all have a role to play to ensure our children have the tools and information they need to stay safe whenever they are online,” he said.
“We’ve seen too many tragic cases of online abuse and bullying. This new suite of measures will help keep our children stay safe online and support parents, community leaders, and teachers to do our bit.”
Fletcher on Tuesday also took the opportunity to touch on the work Inman Grant’s office has been doing.
“I acknowledge the influential role the eSafety Commissioner is playing in keeping the pressure on technology companies to integrate user safety into the design, development, and deployment of their products and services,” he added.