Internet, NBN creating new opportunities for children and schools: Gillard

Prime Minister speaks about the good that Internet offers, as well as the potential pitfalls.

The opportunities the Internet provides us should never be forgotten, according to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who spoke about how we all live in a “remarkable age with many modern opportunities and challenges” during the recent launch of McAfee’s bCyberwise initative in Sydney.

“It is giving us the opportunity to transform education as we roll out the NBN, so kids at school can get the best curriculum around the world,” she said.

Gillard pointed to how the Internet enables children to access the best teaching from around the world, as well as leave school having developed friendships with other children located overseas.

“They can use that online experience to help them learn a language in our region,” she said.

“They can take all of that into the world, as well as the benefits of staying in touch with friends through social media.”

In this new age, Gillard sees the roll out of the NBN as creating further new opportunities for children and schools, “just as it is creating new opportunities for businesses and for people to stay in touch.”

But with all of those opportunities, Gillard admits there are new risks that people need to face up to.

Just as parents have taught children one generation after another about how to be streetwise and about “stranger danger,” they now have to teach the current generation of children about the new dangers lurking in the cyber world.

“I know parents worry a great deal about cyber bullying or the kind of bullying that follows from the school gates into the home,” she said.

“They worry about the predators, the adults using the Internet for their purposes, pretending to be children, asking to meet children in the real world.”

For those reasons, Gillard said the bCyberwise program is important, as it will help children learn.

“It is very practical and sensible information about who you would share the most secret and sensitive things with, and how you would make those judgements on what you would share with absolute strangers, your parents, close friends, and people at school,” she said.

The bCyberwise module, run in association with Life Education, will be taken out to more than 600,000 children in 3,500 schools.

“It’s very important that our children in this modern world understand all of the opportunities but also the risks that can come with the new environment in which we live,” Gillard said.

Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.

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