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Parents Shouldn't Be Scared About Kindy Kids Learning Cyber Safety, Experts Say

AFP program targets 4 year olds

Parents Shouldn't Be Scared About Kindy Kids Learning Cyber Safety, Experts Say Getty

Australian Federal Police will soon be teaching daycare and kindergarten kids about how to avoid online predators, as part of a revamped government cyber safety training program.

From next month, officers will hold 'ThinkUKnow' seminars for teachers and pupils across the country, on the importance of safe internet use, cyberbullying, the dangers of sharing personal information and where to seek help if you think something is wrong.

Shockingly, authorities say they've already dealt with several cases of young kids, some just four years old, uploading sexually explicit images that make them prey for predators and the education is essential, as so many youngsters have their own smartphones or constantly use their parents' devices.

Cyber safety expert and Head of Education at Wangle Family Institute, Robyn Treyvaud, says parents should be welcoming the news and the peak concepts being discussed will be exactly what young kids need.

"Things about being safe online.. How would you know if you don't feel safe? Who would you go to if you need help? Don't believe everything you see on the internet and how can you be respectful?," she said.

"Lets not forget these kids are often using mum or dad's smartphone and of course those devices may not necessarily have parental controls. It basically means that these kids are free-ranging potentially on the internet, using apps that may have in-app purchases or provide an opportunity for them to connect with someone online, often a random stranger. That's where the AFP pitch will be coming from."

"I think this is just a really key initiative that's beginning earlier than people would expect, but is actually very timely."

Treyvaud believes any opportunity for young kids to get involved in the 'ThinkUKnow' program also provides an opportunity for parents to have conversations with their children.

"The best education children can receive is from members of their family. The program is not there to scare, it's about being proactive in understanding - what are the risks? how do we mitigate the risk? what can we all do to keep kids safe? - I would caution parents against being frightened by the fact that AFP are going into early-childhood venues. I would be welcoming the opportunity."