“Dad, I just won a free iPhone!” my son yells from the lounge room. He is on a gaming site, which has prompted him to enter almost every bit of detail a 10 year old might know about himself.
Unfortunately in a cyber world it really is that easy for our kids to travel down into a rabbit hole that can affect their privacy, reputation or relationships both online and in the real world. Sometimes for the rest of their life.
ThinkuKnow is a volunteer program partnered by the Australian Federal Police, Datacom, Microsoft, Commonwealth Bank and state police agencies. The aim of the program is to educate parents and kids on how to stay safe while making the most out of technology.
Employees from each of the partnering organisations donate their time to present timely, up to date information, strategies and tools to equip parents, carers and teachers with the knowledge they need to help protect our children.
Such as awareness around online gaming and grooming, knowing how to handle cyberbullying, tips on managing reputation, privacy and esecurity and the pitfalls of sexting. The Australian Federal Policy also provides a free brochure that discusses Cyber Safety and Security with a page by page description of each of these topics, what you need to be aware of and advice on how to keep safe and secure online.
For example, we all make mistakes, particularly as kids, it's one way we learn. However in this digital world a reputation can be easily marred and incriminating evidence forever imprinted in cyber space. The program explores how we can help children understand the long term consequences of engaging in activities that may be fun in the heat of the moment, but could haunt them for the rest of their life, particularly if captured on camera.
Another pertinent topic is that of cyberbullying. It used to be hard enough to deal with a bully at school but now the bullying doesn’t end when you get home and close the front door. Social media invites all sorts of interaction, some positive, some negative and the potential for things to be said that would never be said to a person’s face and misunderstandings as to a meaning behind a message are huge. How do we equip our children to handle this? The ThinkUKnow program provides guidance around this as well.
We have all heard of the saying; ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. With the internet, this is even more essential. It takes a global community to work together to teach our children how to be safe while online so they can enjoy the benefits the digital age has to offer.
If you are interested in holding a presentation at your school or institution call 1300 362 936 or visit https://www.thinkuknow.org.au/site/. A volunteer from one of the partnering organisations will be happy to come along and share the latest information with parents and carers on how to keep our kids safe online.