Parents and teachers will be surveyed under the Federal Government’s new $200,000 project aimed at cyber-safety and security issues.
Wollongong-based company, Iris Research, was chosen to run the project after a lengthy tender process that began in June.
Iris executive director, Simon Pomfret, said the project would be completed by the end of this financial year and consisted of two main surveys to study how kids, parents and teachers understand the Internet.
“One survey is with parents and it’ll be asking them about their knowledge of usage of the Internet by their children from 5-17 years old,” he said. “It’s using the parents as a proxy to understand their kid’s use of social media sites, whether they’re accessing any inappropriate material and whether they’ve come into contact with any cyber bullying.
“About 7 per cent of kids are involved in cyber bullying and that’s growing.”
Pomfret said the rollout of notebooks to secondary school students by state governments via the Federal Government’s Digital Education Revolution meant a second survey targeted at teachers was also vital.
“This hasn’t been done before. The target is both primary and secondary school teachers and we’re looking at what behaviour of students at school with the use of computers and the Internet,” he said.
The executive director understood students often hacked or sidestepped security put in place on school computers and that the study would specifically investigate this point.
“We’re finding that no matter what sort of blocks or filters you put on, there’s all sorts of ways kids can get around these to get online, particularly to social media sites like Facebook or MySpace,” he said. “These kids out there are a lot more intelligent than what we were.”
Pomfret admitted the second survey would be the hardest to run because of the large number of organisations that had to be consulted first.
“We’ve got to get approval from all the jurisdictions in Australia and that’s both government and non-government. It’s a very long process and applications will have to be put to the various research councils,” he said.
Although the survey sample will not be randomly selected, Iris is working with a separate body, the Australian Council for Education Research, to ensure it’s reliable.
“They’ll be using a sophisticated technique to make sure it’s weighted by state regions, rural areas and the size of the schools,” Pomfret said. “It’s going to be, as best we can, a representative field.”