Teaching online safety to lower primary students - Education Matters Magazine
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Teaching online safety to lower primary students

Hardly a day goes by without reports of some new risk to children online, but talking with them early and often – and teaching them about online safety – can equip them with the skills they need to stay safe, according to the Australian eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.

At eSafety we’re very conscious of the trauma online harms can cause and unfortunately complaints are growing across all our reporting schemes. Last year alone we saw a 70 percent increase in cyberbullying complaints, for example, and reports of image-based abuse involving young people continue to rise. Our research shows most young people have been exposed to some form of harmful content by the time they reach 17. But we also know that technology use at home and school can bring many benefits for young children.

eSafety’s research shows 81 percent of parents with children aged 2 to 5 report their child is using the internet, so we have to start educating them at an early age. That way they can enjoy the benefits and hopefully avoid most of the risks.

Finding age-appropriate and curriculum- aligned online safety resources for this age group can be challenging. To help support teachers, parents and carers, the eSafety Commissioner has developed a new package of resources tailored for young children (aged 5 to 8) to help them build good habits when using technology and to promote positive online experiences.

And what better way to do it than with a quirky gang of lovable cartoon characters?

NEW ONLINE SAFETY RESOURCES PREPARE CHILDREN AGED 5 TO 8 FOR LIFE ONLINE

We deliberately chose to develop the package with educators not only to incorporate their educational expertise and deep knowledge of the children they teach, but also to ensure we met their needs as effectively as possible. The result is a suite of classroom activities, teacher professional learning modules and activities for parents and carers to do at home with children aged 5 to 8, complementing and building on eSafety’s Early Years program for younger children.

Teachers know well how tricky it can be keeping a young audience engaged, but classroom tools that serve to make content relatable can help.

The Mighty Heroes Online Safety resources
Meet the Mighty Heroes – Dusty, River, Wanda, and Billie – on a mission to deliver the eSafety Commissioner’s four key online safety messages to children aged 5-8 years in the classroom.

MEET THE MIGHTY HEROES

Enter The Mighty Heroes, a quirky quartet of loveable bush critters who anchor our eSafety classroom messages. Their mission is to teach children about online safety in a way that’s engaging and fun. Each character has an online safety superpower to teach children about eSafety’s four key online safety messages:

Wanda the echidna: I am responsible – I protect my personal information.

River the sugar glider: I show respect – I am kind and caring to others.

Dusty the frilled neck lizard: I trust my feelings – I ask for help when something doesn’t feel right.

Billie the bilby: I investigate – I question what I see, hear and do online.

The suite of classroom activities for Foundation to Year 3 includes teacher notes to guide the conversation in the classroom. Resources are also available to help parents and carers continue the conversations at home.

FREE PROFESSIONAL LEARNING MODULES TAILORED FOR LOWER PRIMARY TEACHERS

We have also developed free, evidence-based professional learning modules for lower primary teachers. The modules created with Early Childhood Australia cover essential topics, including safe technology use, respectful online behaviour, resilience, and help-seeking, and critical thinking. Based on recent research, the modules include practical teaching strategies and classroom activities and align with Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) standards and the Australian Curriculum.

Levelling up your online safety knowledge with each of these modules only takes 25 minutes, with additional reading time (35 minutes) of self-study – all of which you can work through at your own pace.

CHECK OUT THE NEW RESOURCES

It’s important we work together to create a safer, more responsible online community for everyone. Check out the suite of materials on offer and start building young children’s capability today.

• Classroom resources: esafety.gov.au/lower-primary-resources

• Professional learning modules: esafety.gov.au/lower-primary-teachers

• Parent and carer resources: esafety.gov.au/mighty-heroes

ABOUT JULIE INMAN GRANT

eSafety
eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.

Julie Inman Grant is Australia’s eSafety Commissioner. In this role, Julie has led the world’s first government regulatory agency committed to keeping its citizens safer online, under the new Online Safety Act 2021. She further plays an important global role as Chair of the Child Dignity Alliance’s Technical Working Group and as a Board Member of the WePROTECT Global Alliance. The Commissioner also serves on the World Economic Forum’s Global Coalition for Digital Safety and on their XR Ecosystem Governance Steering Committee on Building and Defining the Metaverse. She was reappointed for a further 5-year term by the Australian Government in January 2022.

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