In a world where Australian youths are exposed to the potential dangers of digital technologies from a very young age, there is significant concern that adults — particularly those who grew up in an age before the Internet even existed — are sometimes not well informed enough to be able to keep children safe online.
ThinkUKnow, a joint initiative between Microsoft Australia and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and supported by ninemsn and Datacom, is an Internet safety programme aimed at addressing online safety issues for children. Developed four years ago, ThinkUKnow delivers free, interactive training to parents, carers and teachers across Australia.
Created by the UK Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, the ThinkUKnow programme started four years ago as a pilot project in three of the eight states and territories of Australia. Since it was nationally launched in February 2010, more than 17,000 parents, carers and teachers in Australia have participated in ThinkUKnow awareness sessions on how to keep young people safe online. The programme is also supported by a website (www.thinkuknow.org.au), with information and resources for adults and young people to find out more about online safety.
More than 220 accredited ThinkUKnow volunteers from partner organisations — including 80 Microsoft Australia employees — regularly deliver highly interactive presentations on topics ranging from cyber bullying to reputation management. Each presentation is delivered by a law enforcement officer and a volunteer from one of the three industry partners.
Commander Glen McEwen, AFP Manager Cybercrime Operations, said awareness and communication between parents and their children is critical to online safety.
Commander McEwen said, “The ThinkUKnow programme has turned out to be a successful platform for educating parents, carers and teachers on how today's young people can safely navigate the Internet. AFP officers are actively involved in pursuing those who seek to harm and exploit children online, but the best weapon we have against online offenders is ensuring that the children themselves know the warning signs and what to do when they occur.”
To date, over 500 ThinkUKnow presentations have been delivered to more than 17,000 people in Australia.
Liz Myers, parent of a student from Stanmore Public School, said, “I really had no idea about the risks of having personal details on social networks and have since removed my family’s personal information, including pictures, from public websites. We've started using filters and parental controls on our home computer and no longer have the laptop being used in the children’s bedrooms.”
“The ThinkUKnow programme has turned out to be a successful platform for educating parents, carers and teachers on how young people can safely navigate the Internet."
- Commander Glen McEwen, AFP Manager Cybercrime Operations, Australian Federal Police
For more information, please visit www.thinkuknow.org.au