Children as young as kindergarten age will receive cyber safety training under an expanded program launched this week on Safer Internet Day.
Cyber safety training for industry and law enforcement presenters will be delivered nationally in the coming weeks by the Australian Federal Police as part of the ThinkUKnow cyber safety program.
A ‘kindergarten to grade two’ presentation has been included in response to younger children accessing technology, and law enforcement seeing incidents involving younger victims.
Speaking in the House of Representatives, Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said children needed to be educated to make sure the internet was a force for good.
“Bullying has been around forever. There’s nothing new about that, but what is new is the bullies can now follow our kids home,” Mr Chester said.
“Bullies can follow our kids into their lounge rooms and into their bedrooms as they use their devices online, and it’s very hard for young people today to find a safe haven from a bully.
“As parents and grandparents, we need to support this digital generation of young people.
“We need to help them as they cultivate respectful relationships both online and offline.”
Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Angus Taylor said cyber crime was all-pervasive.
“We need to get on top of this and fast,” Mr Taylor said.
“Our law enforcement agencies are seeing shocking incidents of children as young as four producing sexually explicit material, uploading it to social media, and subsequently engaging with online child sex offenders.
“As a parent these reports are deeply concerning. We need to closely supervise our young children online, and we also need to ensure they are taught how to identify suspicious online behavior and how to block and report offensive apps and sites.”
ThinkUKnow is a unique partnership between law enforcement and industry. The program, in its ninth year, is delivered by trained industry volunteers and law enforcement members. State and territory police deliver the program in schools from kindergarten to Year 12.
This year’s presentations focus on education around key trends such as self-produced child exploitation material, grooming of children through online apps and games, and for young children the importance of adult supervision.
“Australians are online more than ever before. Cyber safety programs such as ThinkUKnow are vital to protect children in the ever-changing online environment,” Mr Taylor said.
The program is a partnership between the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Commonwealth Bank, Datacom and Microsoft Australia and is delivered in collaboration with state and territory law enforcement as well as Neighborhood Watch Australasia.
The 2018 presentation package will be available in schools and organisations nationally from the end of March.