By Adjunct Professor in Computing Tanveer Zia (pictured, inset) in the Charles Sturt School of Computing, Mathematics and Engineering, who has led award-winning cyber security studies for girls in high school.
Late last week, the Shadow Education Minister Ms Tanya Plibersek, MP, outlined the Australian Labor Party’s eSmart Digital License program for school children.
Digital literacy and online learning have become the new normal with COVID-19 and our children tend to spend even more time on the internet for academic and socialising purposes.
At the same time, there are malicious actors present behind the anonymity of the internet who might lure innocent minds to inappropriate content.
Having a formal awareness and training program to teach children how to navigate the internet safely will certainly help children to become cyber smart.
An effective training program will need to include how to identify phishing websites and emails, teach content filtering techniques, and foster how to establish a balance between learning and socialising.
The 10- to 14-year-old age group is at a delicate stage when children expand their social circles and keeping them safe in the anonymous world of the internet becomes more of a challenge.
Some websites and apps claim to ensure internet anonymity, but children can easily fall into traps.
Even these so-called anonymous apps can expose children to a range of online risks, including cyberbullying and other inappropriate content.
In my opinion, the federal government chosen at the next election ─ of whichever identity ─ should expand this idea to include the eSafety Commissioner, Department of Education, and higher education institutions to develop a structured curriculum to launch this program across the country.
For such a structured approach, funding of $6 million is inadequate and more resources are required for the timely delivery of this important program nationally.