The Liberal Party’s discussion paper released by Coalition MP Paul Fletcher Friday 16th November, highlighting a need for a e-safety commissioner, a scheme to identify child friendly smart phones more streamlined, cyber safety education and a campaign to get online platforms like Facebook to comply faster with requests to take down content, really seems to be partly focused in the wrong area to make cyber safety better understood and more effective.
Yes I want more action on Cyber Safety
I’m all for making Cyber Safety and protection from bullying online a priority. But the coalitions discussion paper seems to ignore the fact that there are already good and effective laws in place to deal with offensive behaviour online. And the likelihood that large overseas organisations like Twitter and Facebook or Google will cooperate with a self appointed Australian e-commisioner’s wishes to have something removed from their platform, seems highly unlikely. Witness the recent effort by Muslims attempting to have an offending YouTube video removed. by Google, although highly offensive to many Muslims the video didn’t break Googles Terms Of Service so it’s still up there. Many smart phones also already have effective and simple parental controls on them.
We Already Have Some Of These Things In Place
The problem isn’t most offensive content can’t be taken down, or that there are no safe smart phones suitable for children, it’s that there is a lot of ignorance about what you can do to protect kids online in the first place before a lot of this behaviour gets to that point. A major problem is that a lot of cyber bullying goes on unreported, and a lot of cyber bullying and offensive behaviour online is generally not being dealt with well by parents, schools or the kids.
The opposition seems to feel that parents and the community want to be reassured that under their leadership that their government can have super cyber powers that no one else around the world has right now in being able to take down online content that they don’t like. But the laws to take down offensive content are already in place. We need to try and prevent online abuse happening as much as possible BEFORE it hurts someone.
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They got this right!
More And Better Cyber Safety Education Is A Must!
The promise of more focus on cyber safety education is very important, and a streamlined approach is definitely a great idea. IF it’s up to date, practical and presented by great communicators with a solid understanding of online platforms and technology. A bad communicator with out of date knowledge and no rapport with parents, teachers or students is worse than nothing at all, it just puts people off. However if schools and parents don’t feel that they need cyber safety education you will have an uphill battle getting them to take it up, even when its a free service.
Our Kid’s Are Fine Thank You!
As a cyber safety advocate I think government money would be better spent on doing a nation wide awareness campaign to help children, parents and teachers understand that there are serious problems happening online and that they might not even be aware of it happening to the ones they love. All of us, parents teachers users and kids need to know that there are many simple steps you can take to help prevent an upsetting episode occurring online. I find that most parents think they already are doing as much as they need to, but unfortunately about 95% of parents and teachers I talk to are seriously and sadly misinformed, they don’t have a clue about the most basic settings that you can put in place to protect your child. In many ways..They don’t know what they don’t know…
Isn’t It The Schools Job To Handle Cyber Safety Education?
Another big hurdle that government has to get over in order to educate effectively on cyber safety is that it seems that the majority of parents still think that cyber safety is NOT their responsibility, they believe that schools should teach their kids about online safety. Parents need to understand that no matter how much kids know about the dangers of being online and how well kids are educated in cyber safety, they are still kids and as such still need adult supervision, cyber safety educated supervision. Parents really need to understand the technology their kids are using better, learn about parental controls and how they can guide and supervise their own children better online.
If parents, in particular, start to understand how important it is for parents as well as kids to be informed and educated on cyber safety then maybe we can start to see some improvements in children’s experiences online. Right now most cyber safety classes directed at parents are horribly under attended, and I believe it’s because most parents just don’t think it’s their problem. These parents could be the parent of a cyber bully or a parent of a victim and not even know it.
From my experience the FOUR MOST important issues facing cyber safety are:
1. Kids are not communicating when they are in trouble online.
2. Parents are sticking their heads in the sand about cyber safety.
3. Not enough informed up to date, positive and practical education about cyber safety.
4. Inadequate responses to victims of cyber bullying or upsetting online experiences.
In many cases these FOUR issues have led to a young person taking their own life having been a systemic victim of online and offline bullying. Unfortunately in most cases of suicide after being a victim of this abuse, the victim’s bewildered parents and teachers are usually totally unware of where the child was going online, how bad the bullying was, and how effected the child was by the bullying, or they simply didn’t know what to do, or who to turn to.
If parents have good educated support when and if they find out the extent of the problem and had some practicle ideas of where to go for help or what to do, we would be a long way towards a solution. Yes we definitely do need better and safer systems of reporting and care for victims of bullying.
Bullying is epidemic in our society from toddlers up to the elderly, why? We also need to focus on bullying behaviour being passed down from generation to generation. Cyber Bullying is a behavioural issue, not software that needs regulating.
This blog has many Step By Step posts on Facebook privacy settings YouTube safety settings, Google Search safety settings, Parental Controls for computers and for smart phones and much more.
More than anything I find parents and kids want Step By Step cyber safety guidance NOT just a scary talk!
Have you been to a talk on Cyber Safety yet? If not why not? Not judging. Let us know in comments.
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