A brand new cyber safety website for parents and their children is being launched by the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle's Catholic Schools Office (CSO) this week, to ensure parents are well informed when it comes to the internet and have access to user-friendly information, links and resources from one central point.
The site http://www.cybersafetyforparents.mn.catholic.edu.au/ aims to inform all parents including those from the CSO's 55 schools, on ways they can be proactive and cyber savvy whilst also ensuring their children are educated to use the internet safely and are aware of the consequences if they don't.
The CSO identified that while the information was out there for parents, it could often be overwhelming and hard to find, spread across hundreds of sites and involving technical jargon which could act as a deterrent for those seeking to find out more.
CSO Parent Liaison Officer, Linda McNeil, said the aim of this project was to change all that, so that parents had one central access point they could visit to get all their information.
"Our aim is to offer parents from all schools the opportunity to benefit from a one-stop website shop where they can get the information they need about everything from social media, unwelcome websites, stranger danger, cyberbullying and financial exploitation to unlawful use and useful contacts," Mrs McNeil said.
"We want to ensure parents are well informed so they and their children have the best possible outcomes from using the internet," she said.
The site not only has preventative measures and ideas for parents to implement at home, but also has information which aims to assist parents in dealing with unexpected circumstances, such as a child being the victim of cyber-bullying, or in fact, the cyber bully!
"Parents need to understand that there can be legal consequences for unlawful activities like 'sexting', bullying or children accessing inappropriate sites and the website will assist in explaining the seriousness of these practices and potential consequences to their children.
The media reminds us daily of the pitfalls and undesirable situations children and families encounter when they are not using the internet wisely or are unaware of the legal ramifications of what they perceive to be innocent pranks."
Mrs McNeil says the internet and Facebook are integral to our lives today but parents needn't be frightened if they educate themselves and their children about how to use the internet, social networking and all mobile internet devices, especially mobile phones, in a safe and sensible way.
"Yes, there are risks but it is like learning to drive, if we learn the rules of the road then we reduce the risk of hurting ourselves and others."
"There are so many useful tips and links on this new site and I really encourage parents to share the site with their kids, starting with the video clips which feature students talking about their own experiences.
These issues and ideas are relevant to parents and students from all schools - Catholic, independent and state schools. No school or family is immune from potential internet problems but by being prepared, aware and informed, you will be able to deal more confidently with any issues you may face."
The Cyber Safety Resources for Parents site was developed by the CSO's Learning Technology Team, with guidance provided by the Education Officer of the Diocese of Broken Bay, Mr John Hession.