Written by Mark Coulton -
The internet has immense potential to teach children, benefit society and enhance economic development. It has really revolutionised all our lives, yet it also presents a real challenge for many parents when it comes to potential dangers of cyber-bullying, predatory behaviour and children accessing age-inappropriate content.
I know that many parents and school teachers that I speak to feel ill-equipped to deal with the challenge of protecting children from online dangers. Facebook, networking games, smart phones and iPads are all part of the typical daily life of today’s children and protecting children online has become a new area of responsibility for parents, many of whom feel unprepared to respond to a world they know little of.
The Coalition has released a Discussion Paper on Online Safety for Children. We are seeking input from parents, schools, young people and industry about ways we can help children to safely participate in the online world. Issues raised in the Discussion Paper include:
• Establishing a Children’s e-Safety Commissioner to take a national leadership role in online safety for children.
• Implementing Rapid Removal protocols with large social media outlets for material that is targeted at and likely to cause harm to an Australian child, through a co-operative regulatory scheme.
• Assisting parents and carers make informed decisions about devices such as smartphones
and tablets, by establishing recognised
branding indicating their suitability for younger children and teenagers.
• Providing greater support for schools through a stronger online safety component within the National Safe Schools Framework, and assisting with online safety resources for schools.
• Undertaking a national public education campaign to highlight online safety issues.
Improving online safety will only come through the combined work of parents, carers, schools, police, governments and technology providers. All of us have a part to play in ensuring this generation of Australian children and young people are as safe as possible from online dangers.
The Coalition’s Discussion Paper comprehensively details the challenges facing Australian parents, carers and teachers. I invite education, technology, cyber-safety leaders, as well as parents, carers and young people to make submissions on the Discussion Paper.
Our online safety policy will focus on providing greater support for teachers and parents in their work in guiding young children to adulthood, including helping them to become responsible digital citizens. We do not seek to limit the existing free expression or interaction of adults, rather we seek to protect children from dangerous material and harmful behaviour
that can damage them.
The process will contribute to the formation of the Coalition’s policy on Online Safety for Children which will be released prior to the next election.
Written submissions are invited by 29 March 2013 and can be sent electronically to me
at Mark.Coulton.MP@aph.gov.au or by mail to my Dubbo office Suite 3/153 Brisbane Street, Dubbo NSW 2830.