Playing IT Safe supports early learning educators to teach our children online safety

in News

A new and innovative early childhood online safety education initiative that supports educators to teach infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers basic online safety through play-based learning will also give them skills to become digitally literate and become respectful and safe technology users as they grow older.

Developed by national children’s charity, the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, in partnership with the Australian Federal Police and the eSafety Commissioner, and in collaboration with leading academics and early childhood teachers, Playing IT Safe is a web portal that hosts play-based activities, games and resources for parents, carers and educators to use when introducing technology and online safety to young children

Playing IT Safe features fun, interactive and age-appropriate play-based activities, games and resources designed specifically to introduce technology and online safety to young children – in both educational and home environments.

Research from the eSafety Commissioner shows that 81 per cent of parents with pre-schoolers said their children were already using the internet.

This creates potential challenges including exposure to inappropriate content, creating self-generated child sexual exploitation material or unwanted contact through interactive apps or games.

Educators and parents can access information and resources developed by early childhood education and online safety experts.

The Alannah & Madeline Foundation CEO Lesley Podesta said keeping children safe online is at the core of our work.

“We know children are now online before they can read, and our children need to explore and learn safely. These resources will help them play online in ways that will give them the skills they need to be safe and smart,” Ms Podesta said.

AFP Assistant Commissioner ACCCE and Child Protection Lesa Gale said the initiative was one avenue the AFP was working to help protect children online.

“Police agencies across the country work diligently to identify and prosecute offenders but we carry that same drive and commitment to helping educate children and their parents and carers about the challenges they can face online,” Assistant Commissioner Gale said.

In 2018, the AFP received funding under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) 2002 to work with the Alannah & Madeline Foundation to develop an online safety resource aimed at pre-school aged children, teaching them to use networked technology in safe and appropriate ways and to support parents, carers and educators to develop approaches and systems that keep children safe online.

The eSafety Commissioner has provided additional funding to this project, resulting in the creation of the younger years’ activities for infants and toddlers taking a holistic and play-based approach to early childhood online safety education.

Gandel Philanthropy is funding the Alannah & Madeline Foundation to conduct a series of professional development workshops to assist early childhood educators in how to effectively apply Playing IT Safe and use play to teach children about what the internet is, how messages and photos are shared and who to go to if they feel scared or need help when using technology.


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