Keeping kids safe online more important than ever

Wednesday, 02 September, 2020

Keeping kids safe online more important than ever

The COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns and increased isolation are creating heightened rates of cyberbullying, child exploitation and image-based abuse. National eSmart Week is running 6–12 September and is held in line with National Child Protection Week, focusing on the safety of young Australians in an increasingly online world.

Schools and libraries around Australia come together to promote cyber safety and positive online connections in an initiative of national children’s charity the Alannah & Madeline Foundation.

eSmart programs use a cultural change approach to improve cyber safety, increase digital literacy and reduce cyber bullying. The program is now instilled in 2450 schools across Australia and more than 80% of public libraries.

This year’s theme is Connecting Safety, looking at all the good work which has come from remote learning, home schooling and lockdown.

National eSmart Week Ambassador, National Centre Against Bullying member and renowned child and adolescent psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg said cyber safety knowledge which is embedded in school curriculums is vital in today’s world of remote learning.

“Teaching students about safe and responsible use of technology should be a central part of their education,” Dr Carr-Gregg said.

“This will ensure they have the skills, knowledge, strategies and basic competencies to help curb online bullying and encourage respectful relationships.

“National eSmart Week is the perfect opportunity for communities to share their knowledge and celebrate their work around being smart, safe and responsible when using technology. By creating awareness about cyber safety, bullying and wellbeing, we can reduce online harm.”

Dr Carr-Gregg will share his tips on managing family wellbeing and resilience in his live webinar, Managing the Coronacoaster, on Wednesday, 9 September at 7 pm.

Registered schools and libraries will also be able to access free webinars and live online sessions for students, teachers and parents during the week.

Alannah & Madeline Foundation CEO Lesley Podesta said more than 1000 schools and libraries took part in National eSmart Week last year, helping to creating awareness, solutions and ideas for community education on cyber safety, bullying and wellbeing, both online and offline.

“Working together to raise a generation of smart, safe and responsible children who are capable and compassionate online is so important,” Podesta said.

“Every child must learn to be digitally literate. No-one must be left behind.”

Schools and libraries can share their stories of how they have Connected Safely during recent times using the #eSmart Week.

National eSmart Week celebrates online safety through the Foundation’s eSmart Schools eSmart Libraries, eSmart Digital Licence and eSmart Connect workshops.

To register for National eSmart Week and all events, visit the website here.

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