New online safety education initiative launched, specific for early childhood
A new early childhood online safety education initiative launched earlier which aims to help parents, carers and educators teach infants, toddlers and pre-school children basic technology and online safety concepts.
Developed by the Alannah & Madeline Foundation Playing IT Safe was funded by the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 from the Australian Federal Police and Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE), with additional funding from the eSafety Commissioner’s Early Years program.
As well as introducing online safety education through preventative messaging, the newly developed resource includes a series of digital play-based and offline activities that children can undertake with educators in early learning environments, and at home with parents and carers.
Federal Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said the internet is an essential part of our lives, and for children it is becoming a part of their lives earlier than ever.
“We know very young children have access to electronic devices – they may watch videos or play games on a mobile phone or tablet – and many children are spending more time using these devices because of the COVID-19 pandemic placing them more at risk of being targeted by online child sex offenders,” Mr Dutton said.
Since the implementation of social distancing measures designed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, law enforcement agencies have seen a disturbing rise in the amount of child abuse material being shared on the dark net and an increase in the number of referrals through to the ACCCE.
“The protection of children requires a community-wide response which is why law enforcement, government and early childhood education experts have joined forces to develop this key initiative,” Mr Dutton added.
Alannah and Madeline Foundation CEO Lesley Podesta said a core component of the Foundations work is keeping children safe online.
“We know children are now online before they can read,” she said. “[They] need to explore and learn safely and these resources will help them play online in ways that will give them the skills they need to be safe and smart.”