Prime Minister Julia Gillard visited Yates Avenue Public School in Sydney’s Dundas Valley today to launch a new cyber safety program aimed at educating primary-aged children on how to stay safe online.
Developed by Life Education and McAfee, the bCyberwise program aims to teach students in grades 3 and 4 the dangers of online predators, cyberbullying and the posting of inappropriate information and photos.
“We know many parents worry a great deal about cyberbullying ... and the impact it has on their kids,” said Ms Gillard.
Friends in high places ... Julia Gillard launches the new cyber safety module at Yates Primary School in Sydney's Dundas Valley. Photo: Mike Szabath
“They worry too about the predators – the adults who are there using the internet for their own purposes, pretending, perhaps to be children, asking to meet children in the real world.”
The findings from a recent survey by McAfee reinforce these concerns.
Not only did the survey reveal that teenagers are spending more time online than ever before, but of those teens, 5.8 percent have met up with strangers they encountered online.
With two out of three teens surveyed also admitting that their parents had no idea of what they were up to online, the statistics reveal a need to start educating children on the dangers before they reach adolescence.
Andrew Littleproud, president of McAfee's Asia-Pacific region, agrees with the findings.
“To address risky behaviours in young teens, we need to be educating primary school children in their formative years so they quickly adopt safe online practices,” he said.
The Healthy Harold van will be bringing the cyber safety message to over 600,000 children around Australia in 3500 schools, starting next month.
Presentations, videos, discussion, problem solving and role play will be used to develop and practice these core life skills.
The video below, created by Life Education and McAfee, highlights the need for education on cyber safety and the lack of awareness primary school students have about the online world.