Coulton’s Catch-up 12th March
It is estimated that 2.2 million Australian children actively engage online. The children and teenagers of today are the first generation of young people that will grow up with the internet and social media as an integral part of the way they live, learn and communicate.
Today’s online environment extends well beyond accessing websites and email through the family desktop computer. It also includes a range of interactive activities like social networking sites, SMS messaging, Skype, apps and games. It is the online environment that is also becoming far more accessible as young people connect with each other through computers (in homes, schools and libraries), game consoles and mobile devices like smartphones and tablet computers.
Many parents and teachers I speak to are rightly concerned about the risks and vulnerabilities children and young people face online. In recent years we have also seen the emergence of cyber-bullying and in many cases; children find themselves with no escape from the taunts of bullies online.
I believe we have a responsibility to do a better job in supporting our children and young people online. As such, the Coalition has established a working group to consult with key technology, education and cyber-safety leaders, as well as other interested parties, to further develop its online safety policy in the areas of education, regulation and enforcement.
The Online Safety Working Group will work to identify ways that we can better protect our children online and examine the evidence of the risks children are exposed to and the measures available today to protect them. It will identify any particular gaps which have arisen due to the rapid development of technology and the consequent changes in children’s online behaviour.
It will seek to recommend practical regulatory measures to deliver additional protection to children and young people against the risks they face in the online environment, including ways to deal with illegal or defamatory content that is hosted outside Australia.
The Working Group will examine and report on the risks that children and young people face in the online environment including, but not limited to, the following:
· online bullying;
· potential exposure to sexual predators;
· reputation and privacy risks (including through the self-publishing of inappropriate, illegal or otherwise questionable content);
· theft and financial risks (including the use of online games which can incur high and ongoing fees);
· exposure to illegal and/or inappropriate content
Parents want their children to be safe. Many parents believe they are ill-equipped to protect their children from the pitfalls of the internet and from the risks of social media. Some parents feel out of their depth dealing with the pace of technological change.
We want to help parents, teachers and carers to protect children in their care against online dangers – just as they protect them against the dangers of drowning, or being run over, or being abducted by a stranger.
We are seeking your input. Written submissions are invited by Friday 20 April and can be made to:
Senior Adviser (Social Policy)
(Secretary to the Working Group)
Office of the Leader of the Opposition, Hon Tony Abbott MHR
Suite RG 109, Parliament House, CANBERRA ACT 2600