by the Editor Staying safe online is undoubtedly one of the biggest concerns for parents, as our children grow up in a world where they are able to share information with others almost anytime and anywhere.
“Our kids spend more time with media and technology than they do in the classroom or with their parents,” said James Steyer, CEO and founder, Common Sense Media, an organisation dedicated to creating responsible digital citizens.
“Everyone, from parents to policymakers, has a role to play in helping them safely navigate their rapidly changing digital world. Some of the biggest challenges children and families face today [are] cyberbullying and the online tracking and profiling of kids,” he said.
Similarly, privacy authorities in the Asia Pacific region (known collectively as APPA) are increasingly working together on topics of common concern. The latest example is the list of guidance materials available for children, young people, parents and teachers in the region which the privacy authorities have produced as part of Privacy Awareness Week.
“All of us are increasingly living, playing, buying and communicating online” said Dr Anthony Bendall, Acting Victorian Privacy Commissioner. “Many of our children and young people can’t remember a time when they couldn’t set up their own web pages, blog, tweet, post messages on Facebook or use instant messaging. That’s as real a world for them as talking face to face is – and it’s a world full of excitement and opportunity.”
“But risks exist for our children and young people online just as they do in the physical world – with some new twists and challenges. The information that we put online about ourselves is open not only to friends and family but to bullies, predators, identity thieves and fraudsters. Also, anyone can put anything on the internet – they can tell lies about you, post embarrassing photographs or facts, or harass you because of your opinions or actions. Once an individual’s information is posted on the internet, they lose control over who can access it and any potential misuse of the information. How does anyone protect their privacy in this environment?”
Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim has also reminded young people to make good privacy choices to ensure that their social networking behaviour does not come back to bite them in the future.
“But risks exist for children and young people online just as they do in the physical world – with some new twists and challenges. The information that we put online about ourselves is open not only to friends and family but to bullies, predators, identity thieves and fraudsters.
“Also, anyone can put anything on the internet – they can tell lies about you, post embarrassing photographs or facts, or harass you because of your opinions or actions. Once an individual’s information is posted on the internet, they can lose control over who can access it and any potential misuse of the information,” Mr Pilgrim said.
The privacy regulators themselves and a range of independent cybersafety organisations are helping to answer this question by producing materials written for – and sometimes by – children and young people to help them keep safe online. Increasingly, information is also being produced for parents and teachers.
“The problem is that there’s so much material available that it can be hard to find what you need when you need it” said Dr Bendall. “We’ve created a list of some of the key guidance available in our region, so people can easily click through to what they want. In many cases, people can also reprint the material for free. It’s a practical example of how the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities are working together to protect privacy”.
Megan Glyde, a member of Privacy Victoria’s Youth Advisory Group says “As the building blocks of day-to-day interaction, communication and connection with the people around them, the use of online tools such as the Internet, social media and mobile devices is now second nature to many young people. What can be confusing for young people is how to find information about how to keep their personal information safe and who they can turn to if things go awry when using these tools. APPA’s list of resources will help to alleviate this confusion by collecting together in one place some of the most useful information and resources from each of APPA's jurisdictions.”
The list links to a wide variety of privacy guidance including tips, animations, brochures, discussion topics and interactive website materials. Topics include competitions, health, employment, safety on mobile phones, bullying, sexting and social networking.
Among the resources is a fun YouTube animation How private is your profile? , which reminds us why it pays to limit what we share online.
Young people have privacy rights, and it is important for parents and schools to educate children about these issues and concerns, and to arm them with the necessary strategies to navigate safely through the online world.
Privacy Awareness Week Youth Resources
YouTube animation How private is your profile?
YourKidsEd CyberSafety Resources
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