Tech-smart teens outsmart their worried parents [ Herald Sun, by Greg Thom, 22/8/2011]

VULNERABLE: Australia is ‘ill-edquipped’ to deal with cyber attacks. Picture: Simon Cocksedge Source: The Courier-Mail

VICTORIAN parents fear their lack of technological savvy is putting their kids at risk online.

Research shows more than a third of parents of children aged 10-17 admit their offspring’s tech skills exceed their own.

Experts fear the knowledge gap is convincing many parents they are incapable of understanding how their kids might expose themselves to online risks such as cyber-bullying, sexting and ID theft.

The news comes as the Baillieu Government announced an inquiry into the teen sexting explosion and whether state laws were up with technology.

The inaugural Telstra Cyber-Safety Indicator, to be released today, also showed:

MORE than 87 per cent of young people use the internet at least once a day, with almost half spending at least three hours a week on social-networking sites;

SEXTING is a headache for 62 per cent of parents, who are worried about their children sending sexual messages, photos or videos via mobile phone;

HALF of all parents are frustrated much of their kids’ technology use happens “under the radar”, making it hard to monitor;

ONE in five parents have stumbled across their child accessing inappropriate material online; and

MORE than 12 per cent said their child had been bullied or harassed online.

The online survey by Pure Profile of 1255 people Australia-wide found almost a quarter of parents worried about their children posting personal information on the net. Another 15 per cent stressed over who their kids talked to and what they discussed.

Telstra Internet Trust and Safety Officer Darren Kane said it was important for parents to remember they did not need to be experts to keep their kids safe online.

“Parents should approach their child’s development in the online world as they would in the offline world – by teaching them about right and wrong,” he said.

“It takes a combination of social and technical skills to be safe online.”

More than 69 per cent of parents surveyed set rules about personal information their kids could share.

But 15 per cent said they had no rules governing internet use.

Cyber safety expert Robyn Treyvaud said many parents were abrogating their responsibilities by hiding behind ignorance.

Teachers become victims of online bullying [, 15/8/2011]

Academic calls on schools to give staff more support and protection after study finds many teachers have been victims of cyber-bullying attacks

Teachers are the latest group found to be at risk of cyber-bullying, according to a recent report.

The study by Professor Andy Phippen found several instances where teachers had been targeted for abuse by social media users on websites such as Facebook and Twitter.

One head teacher interviewed for the study said she had a breakdown and was left feeling suicidal.

The headteacher suffered a year of abuse by a parent at her school who used a Google group to post libellous untruths about her and her school. “I eventually had a mini breakdown in the summer holiday, needing an emergency doctor to be called out as I had become suicidal,” she told researchers.

Growing issue

While cyber bullying among children is a well-documented problem, Professor Phippen has uncovered alarming evidence that the trend is spreading to adults.

Researchers surveyed 377 professionals and analysed 35 helpline cases. Of those, 35% said that either they or their colleagues had been subjected to some form of online abuse, ranging from postings on Facebook to campaigns of abuse on Twitter.

Most of the abuse came from pupils, but in 26% of cases parents played a role. The researchers also uncovered cases where parents would abuse pupils using social media.

“Some parents view teachers as fair game for abuse,” Professor Phippen told the Western Morning News. “They use online technologies to hide behind while posting lies and abuse about their chosen victim.

“It seems that, to a subset of the population, the teacher is no longer viewed as someone who should be supported in developing their child’s education, but a person whom it is acceptable to abuse if they dislike what is happening in the classroom.”

He continued: “Given the potential impact of this abuse, we would call on all headteachers and boards of governors to take these matters very seriously and have a zero-tolerance approach to the abuse of their staff. Schools should not be afraid to involve the police.”