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Information Technology Update - September 15, 2017

author: Mark Holland

12 Sep

Information Technology Update - September 15, 2017

Supporting our children in the safe use of technology

The ABC television program 7:30 recently aired a segment titled ‘Do you know what your children are doing online?’. I found it a very interesting and powerful segment which covered many of the dangers of young people going online and a number of sound practices cyber safety authorities such as ‘Think You Know’ (https://www.thinkuknow.org.au/ ) often espouse. The segment itself highlighted the dangers of children posting explicit online images and videos of themselves without understanding the full ramifications of their actions. What may be blatantly obvious to us as adults of what not to do, is not as obvious to our children who often do not think about their actions and their consequences. The segment focussed on the Queensland Police and their investigation into the 8,000 reports of breaches of cyber safety and children they received in the last year. And it is a growing problem as they expect that number of reports to rise to 11,000 in the coming year. The term ‘The Dark Web’ was used by the producers of the segment to describe the forums created by children themselves but alarmingly are also accessed by paedophiles who disguise themselves as children. The segment tried to answer the question why young people are so open to posting explicit images and videos of themselves online. One expert explained that it is not that unusual for a young person who is exploring their sexuality to do something like this. The real danger of this is that it can lead the child to be exploited in a way they would never have imagined. Unfortunately it is the images and videos young people post online that attracts the paedophiles in the first place. The whole idea that once something is uploaded to the internet and that it exists for ever is not well understood by many young people. The fact that young people who post online want their uploads to be ‘liked’ compounds the problem in a way they would not have imagined. Sadly, the Queensland Police explained that these uploads are seen as ‘raw’ by online paedophiles and that they provide a thrill factor for the paedophile and that the child has no idea of the effect their upload is having on these people.

The Queensland Police said that parents have a big part to play in helping their children avoid such a dangerous situation. They talked about how parents need to be a part of their child’s online activity, that parents need to be engaging with their children and having that discussion about what is appropriate to do online and the dangers and consequences of doing the wrong thing. As hard as it might be sometimes, parents should know what apps their child is using, what websites they are accessing and to discuss what is appropriate to upload. The Queensland Police said that ultimately, no one should ever share a naked image or video of themselves because at the end of the day you just don’t know where it will end up or who will be accessing it.

There are a number of excellent parent cyber safety resources available on the parent iPad support page at http://ipads.stpats.vic.edu.au/cyber-safety-resources.html

Some of the best ones include:

 

Mark Holland

Director of ICT