National children’s charity, the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, welcomes this important opportunity offered by the Federal Government’s Select Committee on Social Media and Online Safety for our children and young people to have their say directly to government about their experiences and priorities in the digital world.
The Foundation runs anti-bullying organisation, Dolly’s Dream, in partnership with Tick and Kate Everett, who also strongly support the opportunity for families to have a direct say in what they need and want to see from government and Big Tech.
The Foundation’s CEO, Sarah Davies, said digital technologies play a huge role in the lives of young Australians, with even the youngest going online to learn, socialise, play and express themselves. But traditionally digital platforms have not been designed with children’s best interests in mind.
“Recent research has found that half of young Australians have experienced cyber bullying or other hurtful behaviours online at some point,” Ms Davies said.
“Too many children continue to be exposed to violent or distressing material online, and children’s personal data is used and shared in ways that can be invasive and risky.
Meanwhile, many parents struggle to keep up with their children’s use of digital technologies, let alone support their children to use technology in positive ways, she said.
“Unfortunately, we know that children who are the most vulnerable in the face-to-face world – such as children with disability and children in out-of-home care – are also at higher risk of harmful experiences online.
“In the future, we want the digital world to be a place where children can thrive. We want to see standards of safety, privacy and care for children which are in line with the community’s expectations, and which are equivalent to the standards we would expect from the in-person spaces where children live, learn and play.”
To this end, it’s vital that children – along with their parents, carers and educators – have a chance to share their own insights with government in a meaningful way and have their views taken into account.
“Hearing directly from children themselves gives government a clearer understanding of children’s own strengths, risks and priorities online.”