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Net safety campaign ditches scare tactics

Lucy Battersby (via SMH) | July 30, 2013
It will be supported by well-known digital companies including Google, Facebook, Telstra and Yahoo!7

APPLE AFR PHOTOGRAPH BY GLENN HUNT 100910. GENERIC- apple, macitosh, mac, computers, retail, ipad, ipod, macbook, i.t. , itunes, download, internet. AFR USE ONLY DIGICAM 0000000
ACMA hopes to spread a positive message to people of all ages. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Australian children will be spared the usual advertising scare tactics to protect them from online bullying and identity theft, when a new internet safety campaign hits their inboxes and Facebook newsfeeds from this week.

Instead of scaring kids, parents and grandparents away from the internet and technology, the Australian Communications and Media Authority's Digital Citizens Guide uses an optimistic three-tier message to encourage good online experiences - to "engage positively", "know your online world" and "choose consciously".

Launched on Thursday morning, it will be supported by several well-known digital companies, including Google, Facebook, Telstra and Yahoo!7, as well as gaming and anti-bullying associations.

ACMA deputy chairman Richard Bean said the positive message was not about being wary online, but coming up to speed with digital technologies and making informed choices.

"Our long experience in the cyber-safety world has confirmed that a positive approach to the use of the internet is what's really needed," he said.

A teacher at Holy Family Primary School Granville East in Sydney, Tim Butt, said his school had already embraced ACMA's existing Cybersmart policies, which are taught to parents and schoolchildren in face-to-face sessions around the country.

Granville East has nearly as many computers and iPads as students (280 devices for 320 students) and teaches children from year three onwards about online safety.

"Knowing your online world is very important," Mr Butt said.

"[Cybersmart] really did let us know about things like setting notifications [on apps] so that strange people cannot contact you on your iPad."

The school also teaches children to contribute to the school's blog only when they have something "interesting, engaging and positive" to say, Mr Butt said.

ACMA's guide says Australians can only maximise their online experience if they trust their environment. The "choose consciously" guideline encourages young and old to make thoughtful decisions about exchanging personal information, electronic transactions and security and privacy settings.

The authority will advertise the new guide through Facebook and encourage its supporters to help spread the message to all age groups.


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