Media Release, 02 February 2012

Aussie school kids are more connected than ever with new Telstra research revealing four in five parents will send their kids to school this year with an internet connected device.

Telstra’s Cyber-Safety survey of Australian parents with children aged ten to 17 revealed almost eight in ten Aussie kids own a mobile phone by the time they’re 13 and seven in ten will take one to school this year.

The research also found that while school bags are increasingly packed with internet connected gadgets including mobiles, laptops and tablets, nine in ten parents have concerns about cyber-safety risks such as approaches from online strangers and cyber bullying.

Telstra’s Officer of Internet Trust & Safety, Darren Kane, said it was important for parents to equip kids with the skills required to use new technology safely as they pack their gadget-filled bags for the new school year.

“More than 80 per cent of the parents surveyed told us they view internet connected technology as an important part of their child’s learning and development. However, with kids taking these tech tools to school in record numbers, it’s important they know how to stay safe when using them.

“Our research found that parents’ cyber safety concerns don’t necessarily motivate them to prepare their kids for the digital schoolyard. Almost half of parents (45 per cent) admitted they haven’t spoken to their children recently about how to handle approaches from cyber bullies and more than a third (37 per cent) haven’t spoken to them about how to respond if a stranger approaches them online.

“Sitting down with your child for ten minutes to talk to them about cyber-safety essentials such as when to share personal information online, handling approaches from cyber bullies or strangers online and applying social network privacy settings will make the experience of owning a gadget a better one for kids,” Darren said.

The Telstra research also revealed:

  • School tech increasingly sophisticated: While mobile phones and laptops are the most popular devices to take to class, one in three kids are returning to school with a smartphone, while six per cent will take a tablet to school this year.
  • Parents’ top concerns: Unsolicited contact by strangers is the single greatest cyber-safety concern (with 34 per cent citing it as their top concern) followed by cyber bullying (15.3%) and unsupervised access to information (14.7%).
  • New tech not always matched with new skills: 31 per cent of parents haven’t spoken to their children recently about how to protect personal information like photos, address details and passwords when online while 42 per cent of parents haven’t spoken to their kids about who they should share their mobile number with.
  • Aussie mobile ownership starts young:  Over a quarter (27%) children aged under 11 years own a mobile phone and almost eight in ten kids have a phone by the time they’re 13.
  • Mobiles at school: Four in ten kids who take mobiles to school use them to connect with friends and family via texts and social networking sites such as Facebook. Interestingly, ten per cent of kids use mobile apps such a calculator and a compass as learning aids in some classes.

“Internet connected devices such as laptops, mobile phones and mobile tablets can be just as important to learning as paper, pens and text books. Parents can help ensure their children have a positive experience with these technologies by involving themselves in their children’s use of the internet, keeping an eye on how they interact with others and regularly talking to them about what online behaviour is acceptable,” Darren added.

Telstra’s back to school online safety tips

  • Make sure your child knows what to do and where to go if they encounter cyber-bullying
  • Educate your child so they know not to give out personal details (such as their birthday, school, home address or phone number) online without parental knowledge.
  • Ensure kids understand that they shouldn’t be 'friends' on social networking sites with people they don't know in the real world and make sure you understand how to use privacy settings so that you can jointly manage the content they share.
  • Don't ignore new technologies – kids and teens will use them, if not at home then at their friends’ houses or in the school yard. Ask your child to give you a lesson on sites or internet gadgets you may not be familiar with.

Telstra’s back to school mobile safety tips

  • Remind your kids to be careful about who they pass their mobile phone number to
  • Ensure their mobile phone is PIN locked. If they use a smartphone, also set up a password to protect their email and social networking accounts when the phone is switched on
  • Encourage your kids to think before they send. The person that they send a text, picture or video to may not be the only one who will see them

For more information about staying safe and enjoying the online world, head to Telstra’s Internet and Cyber-Safety page:

About the Research:
This research was conducted online by Pure Profile on behalf of Telstra in January 2012 on a representative sample of 1,250 Australian parents with children aged 10-17, from across Australia in both metropolitan and regional areas.