A programme has been set up to reduce the bullying and harassment of children who use mobile phones and the internet in Australia.
The Telstra Foundation, the charity arm of Australia’s telecoms and internet group Telstra, is putting in A$2million ($1.85m, £940,000) to provide companies with grants of at least A$75,000 over three years to tackle various cyber safety problems, including internet addiction and identity theft, as well as bullying.
Herb Elliott, the foundation chairman, pointed out that children were using mobile phones and the internet from an increasingly early age and said: ‘Sadly, there are more and more reported incidents of children and young people who are victimized at the hands of bullies’.
‘We want to reverse this growing trend, and support programmes and research that help keep kids safe while they make the most of the exciting opportunities the internet and mobile phones offer.’
The programme will involve young people in finding solutions. Parents, in particular, will be encouraged to consider cyber safety and to create a safer online environment, with an emphasis on learning.
The foundation quotes studies showing that 93 per cent of Australian teenagers use the internet, 84 per cent log on to chat rooms daily, and 59 per cent have a mobile phone. Surveys have reported that some children start using the internet at the age of five.