Posts Tagged ‘Cyber Safety’

Children Outsmart Their Parents Online

April 14, 2012

They keep on telling us that this is the age of computer technology and that online skills are vital to success. Why then does our standardised tests not recognise this very theory. Standardised testing worldwide ignores the very skills our students are told they need to obtain.

Perhaps it is because our kids are fast outsmarting us when it comes to online activity:

MORE than half of Australian children are smarter than their parents when it comes to going online, enabling them to outwit adult restrictions.

Fifty nine per cent of children have ways of hiding what they’re doing online – and their parents know it, a survey by internet security specialist McAfee has found.

Of all age groups, children are the most adept at managing their “digital footprint”, or how they appear online.

“Children are far better at managing their profile controls and what their identity looks like to others,” Young and Well Co-operative Research Centre CEO Associate Professor Jane Burns said.

In a survey, one in four people said they had been left behind by their children’s online knowledge and one in three were worried they weren’t able to protect their children from web dangers.

Associate Professor Burns said that, rather than be embarrassed about asking for help, parents should embrace their children’s cyber smarts.

“There is a great capacity for them to be a teacher for you,” she said.

Building trust and rapport early was the key to being a parent in the online age: “Young people are far more technically savvy than their parents.

The reality is, even if parents think that they have control of what their children are doing online, they are pretty savvy and eventually the shift will occur. Children will tell them to back off.”

She said parents should treat internet conversations the same way they first taught their children to cross the road or play in the park.

“The first time you do this you make sure they’re with you and they’re holding your hand and you explain to them why it is important,” she said.

“If you’ve got the rapport it becomes a lot easier to ask your children to show you how they keep themselves safe – and they can teach you things as they get older.”

She said parents trying to start a conversation with their children should understand that they saw the web in completely different ways.

“Technology is now so embedded in children’s lives that they don’t differentiate between online and offline worlds,” she said.

“There is no distinction – you are creating relationships, full stop – and they can teach you things.”

“If you’ve got the rapport it becomes a lot easier to ask your children to show you how they keep themselves safe – and they can teach you things as they get older.”

“If you’ve got the rapport it becomes a lot easier to ask your children to show you how they keep themselves safe – and they can teach you things as they get older.”

Whilst this survey clearly presents a worrying case when it comes to cybersafety issues, it also goes to show that our young are very confident online. Why shouldn’t their skills be taken into account like all other skills currently contained in National standardised tests?

Facebook Ignoring Their Own Age Restrictions

March 4, 2012

Facebook have done the right thing by setting age restrictions. Children under 13 should not have their own Facebook page. We have seen enough carnage caused by children misusing their Facebook page to know that a bit of maturity is essential to having the privilege of being part of the Facebook community.

That’s why I am appauled to read that Facebook may be trying to recruit underage children:

FACEBOOK claims it can reach more than 150,000 children in WA under the age of 13, according to the social networking giant’s advertising database.

Cyber safety experts say Facebook’s estimated reach shows that many young children are accessing the website despite guidelines stating it is only for older teenagers.

Online Child Exploitation Det-Snr-Sgt Lindsay Garratt warned young children were exposing themselves to risks such as sexual predators, cyber bullying and identity theft on social networking sites.

Facebook allows users access to its database statistics if they’re planning to advertise on their website.

It says advertisers wanting to target young teens in WA could reach an estimated 177,220 users aged 13 or under.

Facebook doesn’t let users sign up unless they claim to be over 13. But users often give away their true age by listing information such as the primary school they attend.

Sen-Sgt Garratt said it was important that parents monitored the websites their children were visiting.

Unless Facebook moderators can show they are doing everything in their powers to stop underaged children from having their own page, Facebook should be legally culpable for cybersafety and cyberbullying incidents as a result of their sneaky tactics and general lack of scrutiny.

Tips for Keeping Children Safe Online

February 24, 2012

Geek Squad have come up with some common sense tips for concerned parents. These tips are a good starting point for helping your children keep safe online:

Filtering Software: Install filtering software such as NetNanny or the free Windows Live Family Safety 2011. These programs can help your kids surf the Internet safely – without being exposed to any inappropriate material. You can also consider setting up free filtering at the wireless router level with OpenDNS, which will ensure that all devices that connect to your home Internet are filtered.
Maximize Current Programs: Many computers already come with online safety programs. Learn how to accurately use Parental Controls in Windows and Mac Operating Systems, and other programs that aid in monitoring and managing what children view online. Maximize the use of programs you already have installed and at your fingertips.
LOL Does Not Mean ‘Learn Online Lingo’: But you should: Among the many networking sites are Facebook and Twitter. Learn how these sites work and the coded language commonly associated with them. We can consider citing this study that says teens are increasingly using Twitter because parents have figured out Facebook, so they think they’ll have more freedom where their parents aren’t.
Gaming Parental Controls: Many games have online modes, where your kids can play against others around the globe. It’s important to know who your kids are playing with and what content they can access. Set parental controls on games to protect your kids without affecting their gaming experience.
Control Your Kids’ Online Environment: Windows Vista features parental controls that help parents monitor what kids can access on a computer – even when they’re not in the room or at home. Parents can select what games, programs and websites children can access. Time restrictions can even be set to ensure that the kids are following the rules even when mom and dad are not home. This feature is found in the Parental Controls panel and is part of the User Accounts and Family Safety Control Panel applet.

Keeping Kids Safe Online

February 5, 2012

I agree with Adam Turner. Cybersafety is something parents need to address. They have the primary duty to ensure that their children are following safe online practices.

As far as I’m concerned cybersafety is primarily a parent’s responsibility, just like teaching about stranger danger or how to cross the road safely. The fundamentals of cybersafety are no different to the real world; don’t wander off, don’t talk to strangers, don’t reveal too much about yourself and call a parent if you’re unsure of something.

Some parents might complain that it’s all too complicated, but it’s not if you take an interest in your children’s activities and take the time to learn the basics. Talk to them about computers and the internet. Ask them what they’re learning at school and what they’re doing at home. Take an interest, just as you should in their other activities. 

Turner suggests ways in which parents can better supervise their children:

A common cybersafety rule is that the computer stays in the living area, positioned in such a way that anyone who walks into the room can see what’s on the screen. If notebooks are permitted in the bedrooms for studying, perhaps it’s on the condition that they recharge on the kitchen bench at night. The same rule can apply for mobile phones, which can also help combat cyberbullying.

You can split cybersafety into two key areas. The first is protecting young children from accidentally stumbling across inappropriate content. This isn’t hard if you can set up a list of appropriate bookmarks and trust your kids not to wander. Installing an ad and pop-up blocker offers an extra layer of protection. If children can’t be trusted not to wander, even by accident, you might consider a whitelist plug-in for your browser, which lets you limit access to a specific list of sites.

The second area of cybersafety is hindering older children who are deliberately seeking inappropriate content. This area is much harder to deal with, as smart and determined kids will find a workaround to just about any security measure (remember, help is only a Google search away).

There’s a big market for desktop filtering software, but don’t walk away and trust it to do a parent’s job. In my experience it tends to cripple your computer, but your mileage may vary. If you do want to restrict internet access, look at services that are independent of your end device – particularly useful if your house contains a variety of internet-enabled gadgets.

It’s worth investigating the filtering options built into wireless routers. Some let you create blacklist and whitelists, or switch off the internet at specific times. You could even run a separate wireless network for the children, making it easier to control their access without affecting your own. Another filtering option is DNS-level services such as OpenDNS. 

Whilst teachers should also take an interest in cybersafety issues, it’s up to the parents to take the lead.

Teachers Cautioned Against Venting

February 1, 2012

There is no other job in a democratic country that is legally cautioned against venting or giving political opinions. Unfortunately, teachers have become the focus of regulations that are sensible for the most part, but contain some over-the-top directives.

TEACHERS have been warned against contacting students online amid fears too many are befriending their charges on Facebook.

In a major crackdown on social media use in schools, the State Government has released new guidelines designed to protect teachers’ reputations.

Educators say online smear campaigns by students have put teachers’ careers at risk, with some being forced to move schools.

The Government says the guidelines will also help protect students from inappropriate conduct by teachers.

“That boundary between being a teacher and a friend is one which teachers have to sometimes tread very carefully,” Minister for the Teaching Profession Peter Hall said.

“It’s important to provide parents with the confidence that their teachers have the knowledge available for them to do their job well.”

 Under the online directives launched today, teachers are also cautioned against:

CONTACTING students by mobile phone or email “without a valid educational context”.

POSTING any “offensive or slanderous” material about students, parents or colleagues.

SHARING content from personal social media sites, such as their Facebook accounts, with students.

UPLOADING images of themselves that have “potential to negatively affect their reputation”.

“VENTING” about their work, or posting personal or political opinions.

I have no issue with most of these directives. What I don’t appreciate is being told what I can say and do by somebody else. Teachers have the right to exercise discretion without having to be regulated to do so (I am not referring to inappropriate contact with students). Being told I can’t express my personal or political opinion is not appreciated.

Cyber Bullying is Getting Out of Control

January 1, 2012

Cases of cyber bullying are exploding and schools need to wake up about it. Anti-bullying programs are not sufficient. Schools must treat bullying via internet chat and social media sites as every bit as important as bullying in the playground.

Experts say 10 per cent of all children now claim to have been cyber-bullied, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The enraged father of one teenage schoolgirl became so incensed by comments he believed a boy had made about his daughter on a social networking site that he accosted him in the street and threatened to “slit his throat”.

The man approached the Year 8 boy as he walked to a bus stop on the state’s mid-north coast and pushed and threatened him before boarding the bus, where he issued further death threats to the boy and other students.

In another disturbing case, a mum went to a school in western NSW and urged her Year 10 daughter to assault another girl after an exchange on a social networking site.

Both girls were suspended, police were called and the mum was banned from entering the school under the Inclosed Lands Act.

In the Tuggerah Lakes area on the NSW central coast, comments on a social networking site led to a Year 8 female being assaulted by another Year 8 girl.

One of the students, who sustained swelling to her forehead and complained of feeling dizzy and nauseous, was taken to hospital. The other girl injured her hand.

Schools increasingly are asking police to investigate serious student online bullying and have shored up cyber safety programs in a bid to head off more trouble.

The reason why parents get involved (and in some cases overly involved) is simple. When schools refuse to act citing that the offense was made outside of school grounds it limits any possible consequence for the bully. To prove my point, I refer you to the following pathetic quote from this very article.

The Department of Education said Facebook could not be accessed on school computers.

What it really means is cyber bullying happens at home and needs to be sorted out exclusively at home.

This is simply a lazy and unworkable approach. The only way to tackle bullying successfully is with full school involvement.

It must be so hard for the cyber bullying victims parents. Sometimes it must feel like there’s no one to turn to and nobody who will listen. This must stop!

Let’s Teach 4-Year Olds How To Drive

December 20, 2011

Before you disagree with my proposal let me explain the rationale. At some point people need to know how to drive. We all want capable drivers on our roads, so what better time to teach them the intricacies of driving than when they are young.


Of course not.

Not only are 4-year olds too young to drive but they are also too young to learn other important life skills such as cyber safety. Why the Government expects kinder teachers to educate their young pupils on proper use of internet and the dangers of purchasing goods online beats me.

KINDERGARTENS will be urged to teach cyber safety to four-year-olds amid fears they could fall prey to online predators and bullies.

The Gillard Government will write to state education heads to encourage the take-up of cyber safety programs that teach children not to be mean online and keep their private information to themselves.

It comes amid revelations Victorian primary school children are “sexting” their friends and posting hate messages about their teachers on social networking sites.

A parliamentary committee report earlier this year recommended the Government consider the feasibility of helping deliver programs in preschools and kindergartens.

The Government yesterday accepted the recommendation in principle, but was waiting for a paper on cyber issues to be released in mid-2012 to give a detailed answer.

 In the meantime, it will encourage use of Australian Communication and Media Authority programs, including Cybersmart for Young Kids.

It features a bottlenose dolphin called Hector Protector and his friends teaching young children to keep “special information” private and tell mum or dad if they see anything scary or upsetting online.

It also encourages children to share passwords with their parents and to “be nice” to others.

And parents can download a “safety button” that children can click on to cover up anything upsetting they see online with a friendly picture.

Cyber safety expert Susan McLean said flexible, compulsory education should begin as soon as children switched on a computer, from kindergarten onwards.

“I’ve seen cyber bullying in grade 2. I’ve seen kids buying things on the internet at age seven after their parents have told them not to. That’s commonplace.”

Teaching kids skills too early is like not teaching them at all. I can’t see the value of making young children endure a program that will surely be too advanced for them and doesn’t relate to their present day lives.

Whats next? Teaching four-year olds how to work an electric drill?

Think Twice Before Branding Thoughless Kids as Paedophiles

November 24, 2011

Last month I wrote the following comment about the lunacy of putting naive children on child pornography charges:

The same laws that seek to protect children are being severely undermined by a total lack of common sense.

Australia has a sexual offender registry which was designed to assist the government authorities to keep track of the residence and activities of sex offenders.  You don’t have to be Einstein to realise that being on that list is detrimental to that person’s ability to get a job, loan, sense of freedom and quality of life.

The registry is a vital tool in dealing with pedophiles.  That is why I was astounded to read that children caught ‘sexting’ photos of themselves or friends have been put on this very list.

Two days ago I spoke against the “Sneaky Hat” craze.  “Sneaky Hat” refers to teenagers posting half-naked pictures of themselves with a hat covering their genitals.  As much I find this fad quite unpleasant and potentially dangerous, I would be very disappointed if the teenage founders of this craze to face child pornography charges:

Police are investigating a Facebook craze that originated in Queensland encouraging teenagers to post pictures of themsleves nude on the internet.

The Queensland teenagers behind the new Facebook craze “Sneaky Hat” and contributors to the website could face child pornography charges, a cyber safety expert says.

The craze involves young people posting naked pictures of themselves with a hat covering their genitals and/or breasts, and has spawned similar social media pages, websites and Youtube videos.

The original page was started by 15-year-old students from Dalby, Queensland “for a laugh” but quickly attracted about 100 photos of their friends in the “Sneaky Hat” pose — and more than 10,000 followers.

“We just thought it was funny, but after a while it started like getting wild, out of control,” the Sneaky Hat website’s founder told ninemsn.

“There were all these people who were posting naked pictures and stuff.”

“My mum saw it, she knew and just thought it was funny.”

Police have now requested the images and Youtube videos created by the students.

Cyber safety expert Susan McLean, formerly of the Victoria Police cyber safety project, said the page was infamous around the world and that “any pedophile worth his salt” would be saving the pictures for their own purposes.

“I would question the brain matter of these parents,” McLean said. “That it is just for fun or between friends is the biggest load of crap I have ever heard.”

“This is a form of child pornography and they need to realise that the law applies to teenagers just as much as anyone else.

Well if that is the case, change the law! It is just plain senseless to ruin the life of silly immature teens by charging them with an offence intended for paedophiles. This isn’t just dumb. By bunching young, stupid teenagers with sick, evil paedophiles, we completely undermine the significance of being on the sex registry.

New Facebook Craze Branded “A Paedophile’s Paradise”

November 22, 2011

Some fads are just harmless fun. Many would argue that the Sneaky Hat craze falls under that category. Sneaky Hat, which refers to the practice of taking a photo of yourself naked with nothing more than a hat to cover your private parts, is not “harmless”. Kids that take part in it are not just stupid and foolish. They are reckless in the extreme:

The Sneaky Hat trend has been branded a ”paedophile’s paradise” and involves mostly young people posing in nothing but a hat covering their genitals.

Countless Facebook pages and other sites, open for anyone to see, have sprung up showing male and female teens in provocative poses after reportedly originating at a Queensland Highschool.

Cyber safety campaigner Susan Mclean said contributors to the fad were not only staining their futures but risking child pornography charges.

”It’s no use saying its just fun, it’s harmless fun, the consequences can be quite severe,” she said.

”It is going to end in tears and those pictures – it’s not like sending it on your phone to your boyfriend who may or may not send it on – this is on www (world wide web).

“They’re on public sites, anyone can see them and people are posting them with their names, they’re proud of the photos,” Ms Mclean, founder of Cyber Safety Solutions said.

A Queensland Police spokesperson said they were monitoring the trend but a Victoria Police spokesperson said there had been no reports they knew of in Victoria.

Parents, please do want you can to make sure your children don’t entertain the idea of sharing their hats with the world.

Parents are Worried and So They Should Be

September 9, 2011

Parents are clearly worried about their children’s online activities.  They are worried about the content they get access to and the people they befriend and chat with on social media sites such as Facebook.

In a nationwide survey conducted by legal information website, it was revealed that 67 percent of 627 parents are extremely worried (10%), very worried (18%) or somewhat worried (39%) about their children’s safety online. About 20% said that they are not very worried while 14% are not worried at all. The study was done with a small sampling but said that it was demographically representative.

Most parents are taking steps to restrict their children’s use of the Internet. Steps taken vary, including: monitoring which sites they visit (35%); using site-blocking software (21%); restricting their access to computers (19%); restricting the use of social networks (18%); reading their emails or social posts (17%); and not allowing any Internet use (8%).

I recently attended a Professional Development session on cyber culture.  The survey conducted by AISV interviewed thousands of kids from Grade 4 to Year 8 and collected information about their internet habits.  Some of the interesting findings included:

  • 1 in 5 year 5/6′s don’t consult parents about their internet activity.
  • 15% of year 5′s and 20% of year 6′s have internet access in their bedrooms.
  • Half the respondents claim they don’t have parent imposed internet rules.
  • 30% of respondents know ways in which to circumvent parental controls such as bypassing net filters and minimising pages when parents approach.
  • 40% of respondents name their school or city on social media sites such as Facebook.
  • 84% use chat rooms on a daily basis.
  • Approx. 3/4 don’t use privacy function on their social media pages.

I have 2 tips for parents to help keep their children safe.

1.  Don’t allow them to have a computer (or move the i-Pad or notebook) in their bedroom.  Instead keep the computer in the living room or another room that is open to you and other adults.

2.  Please watch the clip below with your children.  It is a brilliant clip about cybersafety.  I have posted it before and will continue to do so when discussing this issue.

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