Microsoft, AFP partner for online safety program

More than 800 teachers, parents and carers have participated in the ThinkUKnow program.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Microsoft have brought the ThinkUKnow education program to Australia. The program, which originated in the UK, is aimed at educating parents and teachers about how to keep kids away from online predators and other threats.

The program involves 105 trained volunteers from the AFP, Microsoft and the Australian Communications and Media Authority and covers social networking, Internet messaging, blogging, what kids are searching for online and what kind of language they use on the Net.

More than 800 teachers, parents and carers have participated in the program since it started in February. ThinkUKnow's pilot program involves more than 100 schools in NSW, Victoria and the ACT.

"Every time an Australian child logs onto the Internet to use instant messaging or social networking sites, they and their parents and teachers need to be aware of some of the negative aspects", said the AFP's Neil Gaughan. "What this does is open the eyes of the teachers and that has a flow on effect with the children."

Microsoft's regional director of online safety, Julie Inman-Grant, told PC World Australia that many Australian adults trail behind children when it came to using and understanding technology and didn't know how to deal with online threats. "A recent survey found that even though a quarter of children surveyed reported they had been cyber-bullied, a startling 83 per cent of parents did not know what to do if their child found themselves in this situation", Inman-Grant said.

"A few thousand [participants are needed] to get the right type of sample, but I think one of our measures of success is if we help even one family be more safe online or avert an online danger; that's a great measure for success", said Inman-Grant.

"Once we complete 100 schools by term one of this year, the ANU [Australian National University] will conduct a study on this program", Gaughan said.

For more information about the program, visit its Web site here.