Digital citizens in Minecraft

 5th Graders designed a Digital Citizenship & Cyber Safety Game in Minecraft during an after school technology club. The game was entirely built by the students and this was their first try at gamification for an educational project based learning experience in the school library.

A worthwhile video for any student who loves using Minecraft.

I need to know about online gaming

Another resource provided by the Australian Communication and Media Authority‘s Cybersmart website is about online gaming. Covering both video games and gambling, this resource includes information on

  • knowing the basics and
  • protecting yourself

Read the whole post here.

Who’s chatting to your kids?

Queensland Police has developed a resource for parents entitled Who’s chatting to your kids: surviving social media use with your children. Covering the topics of:

  • social media
  • smart devices and phones
  • other internet capable devices (gaming consoles, smart televisions)
  • sexting
  • signs your child could be at risk
  • suggestions to help protect your child on the internet
  • family safety internet agreement

The most important piece of advice they give is:

Maintain direct and open communication with your child.

This is a useful resource, however, I’d like to see more emphasis on children and young adults being encouraged to build a positive digital footprint.

Like, post, share

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has published the final version of the report Like, post, share: young Australians’ experience of social media.

Some of the results include:

  • Two thirds of 12-13 year olds (67 per cent) used a social networking service (SNS) in the last four weeks on a computer, 85 per cent of 14-15 year olds have done this, as have 92 per cent of 16-17 year olds.
  • The younger age group (eight to 11 years) are active social network users – 78 per cent of eight to nine year olds and 92 per cent of 10-11 year olds have used a social network. The most popular social network amongst this younger age group was YouTube—more than half of the eight to nine year olds surveyed (53 per cent) and the majority of 10-11 year olds (69 per cent) had used this site.
  • The majority of 12-17 year olds reported having used a social network,– especially those aged 14-17 years (97 per cent of 14-15 year old and 99 per cent of 16-17 year old internet users).
  • Facebook was the most popular social network service for 12-17 year olds. The majority of Facebook users use the site at least daily and in some cases, more often. For example, the majority of Facebook users aged 14 and over in our study were more likely to use Facebook more than once a day (47 to 50 per cent) than daily (32 per cent). (page 8)
  • Twenty one per cent of 14-15 year olds reported having been cyberbullied, compared with four per cent of eight to nine year olds. Reported experiences of cyberbullying amongst 10-17 year olds appears stable since 2009, but has marginally increased for the youngest age group (eight to nine year olds).
  • The children and young people who reported that they had been cyberbullied were also asked who they told, and the majority did tell someone. All the eight to 11 year olds who had experienced cyberbullying told someone, and the majority of the older children did so as well (89 per cent of 12-13 year olds, 93 per cent of 14-15 year olds and 87 per cent of 16-17 year olds told someone).
  • Thirteen per cent of 16-17 year olds reported that within their group of friends, either they or someone else has sent sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude photos or videos of themselves to someone else. Eighteen per cent of 16-17 year olds reported that they or someone within their group of friends had received sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude photos or videos of someone else. Parents underestimated the extent to which their children were exposed to sexting.

Read the whole report here.

When a screen is their world

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that

Giving your child internet access isn’t damaging, but having no limits may be, writes Linda McSweeny.

Toddlers are navigating technology at a rapid pace, but left to their own devices, some of these tech-savvy kids could end up in a dark and possibly addicted head space by adolescence.

Psychologists say parents must pay attention to their children’s access to apps, online games and smartphones from a young age, to ensure they glean the benefits rather than the problems of our tech-heavy world.

Your children may have a problem if they:

  • Seem happy online but angry offline.
  • Focus on being online instead of doing homework or dining with family.
  • Spend more time online than with friends.
  • Refuse to admit how much time they are spending online.
  • Lose sleep to go online.

Although we know that technology is important to us all, the amount of time spent using it is one of the most important issues facing parents at the moment.. Read the article in its entirity here.

Gamers advised to avoid downloading hacks

Stay Smart Online, part of the Australian government’s Department of Broadband, Communication and the Digital Economy has just released the following information about the danger of gamers downloading hacks:

Antivirus vendor AVG has issued a warning to gamers following research which suggests that more than 90 per cent of ‘hacks’ available online contain some form of malware or malicious code.

Hacks and cheats are commonly incorporated into games; however, the sheer popularity of online multiplayer games has made gamers prime targets for cybercriminals.

The research suggests more than 90 per cent of hacks, cracks, patches, cheats, key generators, trainers and other downloadable game tools contain malware or executable code.

These hacks are commonly delivered via unregulated torrents and file sharing sites, an easy vector for malware. 

Malware inadvertently downloaded with hacks can give attackers easy access to your online gaming account as well as other sensitive information such as online backing details, personal data and passwords for other online services. 


What should you do?

The best advice is to not download any unofficial hacks, patches, cracks or other gaming software (or any unofficial software whatsoever). 

Only download patches from the game’s official site.

Always be suspicious of any files downloaded from torrents and file sharing websites. 

Ensure you always have uptodate security software installed on your computer. 

Use unique account logon and password information for each of your online gaming accounts (and every other online service you use). 


If you think you’re affected

If you think you might have been infected by a downloaded hack: 

Change your password immediately for the game and any associated or similar online accounts.

Contact the game provider to confirm access to your account. 

Run a scan of your computer using up-to-date security software. Most security software should identify and remove common malware. 

You might also consider seeking additional local technical support.

Please share this information with the gamers in your life.

Parents warned on social media overuse

Social media overuse is not just a phenomenon here in Australia. Earlier this year, the Thai publication The Nation reported:

“Thai children aged eight to 18 spend about eight hours daily watching television, using cellphones or playing on the computer, although experts say children, especially those in primary school, should spend no more than two hours per day on any of these activities,” Amornwich said, adding that Thailand had not paid enough attention to the problem.

And, since children’s lack of life skills could lead to bigger problems when they grow up, he urged relevant agencies to take serious action on such vulnerable issues. “For years, we’ve heard that Thai children lack life skills, but agencies have not coped with this problem seriously,” he said

Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Read the whole article here.

 

How much internet is too much?

Dr. Philip Tam, a Child/ Adolescent Psychiatrist and President/ Co-Founder of niira, the Network for Internet Investigation and Research Australia has written a post on internet addiction for the Australian Communications and Media Authority (cyber: smart) blog.

Some of the questions I am asked when assessing a child or teenager with problematic internet use are: How common is this problem in the community? How can parents try to manage or control their child’s heavy (or even extreme) computer use? Can it cause lasting damage and harm to a developing individual?

There have been a number of studies done internationally and in Australia looking at just how big an issue problematic internet use might be. There is an emerging consensus that around five to 10 per cent of all regular computer or internet users (including those who enjoy gaming) might have a problem with excessive use.

Parents have a key role in managing their child’s internet use. Talk to your child, and monitor what games, apps and devices are bought or used by your child. Look out for warning signs that a problem may be emerging, such as reduced school performance or attendance, lack of sleep, not eating and becoming withdrawn from friends and family.

In an upcoming post, Dr Tam will look at available treatments.

Online gaming – five ways to strike a balance

Late last month, ACMA released a post on ways families can strike a balance in the use of online gaming. Author Stephanie Brantz, an ambassador for the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association explains:

We all want our kids to learn about their online rights and responsibilities. Like most parents, I am very busy and, as much as I am a multi-tasker, I cannot constantly be hovering over the computer screen 24/7 watching what my kids are up to. We parents need to help our children find a balance between enjoying online video games while being safe.

Tips include:

  1. keep them close
  2. lay down the law
  3. support role
  4. fantasy names
  5. know the territory

Read the whole piece here.