3 March 2003
Parents role vital in safe internet use
The Australian Broadcasting Authority stressed today the vital role of parents in ensuring their children are not exposed to unsuitable content on the Internet. The ABA's comments were prompted by the release of research report by the Australian Institute on Youth and Pornography in Australia.
Key advice to parents concerned that their children have safe and productive Internet experiences includes:
- Parents spending time on-line with children and knowing what material their children are accessing.
- The computer being placed in a public area of the house, rather than a child's bedroom.
- Family rules about information children can safely give out online, and where they can go online.
"The ABA's website for families, www.cybersmartkids.gov.au, contains useful information for children and parents to help ensure their Internet safety," ABA Chairman Professor David Flint said
Filters are one option available to Internet users who wish to guard against offensive or harmful Internet content.
"Filter software is most effective when used in conjunction with household rules for Internet access, and parental supervision. The software is not however a substitute for good parenting practice," said Professor Flint.
Media contact Donald Robertson, ABA Manager Media and PR on (02) 9334 7980.
The Government's co-regulatory scheme for Internet content provides for a complaints hotline for members of the public to report offensive Internet material, industry codes of practice, and community awareness programs.
The ABA has developed a website, www.cybersmartkids.gov.au, that provides information for families to help ensure their children's Internet use is safe and enjoyable. A complementary range of brochures, available online and in hard copy, includes:
- general Internet safety tips;
- advice on choosing a filter;
- tips for dealing with spam; and
- tips for safe use of chat.
Since the scheme's inception in 1999, approximately one thousand, seven hundred and fifty items of Internet content have been referred to the ABA for investigation. The ABA works through INHOPE, an international network of hotlines that deals primarily with reports about child pornography available on the Internet. In a recent six month period, INHOPE investigated approximately thirty five thousand reports of child pornography online.
Industry Codes of Practice were first registered at December 1999 and are available at the Internet Industry Association's website at www.iia.net.au. The codes deal with a range of customer advise and content management issues, including the requirement that Internet service providers offer subscribers one of the filter products listed in an approved schedule at cost price.
In 2002, the ABA released a report on the effectiveness of various filter products, intended to assist parents in selecting an Internet filter that meets their particular needs. This report is available on the ABA website. The report acknowledges that certain types of filter are likely to more effective than others, depending on the age of children in the family, and their needs to access information.
The ABA continues to monitor work done internationally to develop improved filter technologies. These include a range of projects developed for the European Union to improve filter technologies based on sophisticated forms of content analysis.