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Keeping youth safe online


A cyber safety initiative designed to set a new benchmark on how students interact and embrace social media was launched at Mercedes College this month.

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Written by students for students, the ‘e-fit-m’ charter guides them through the impact of their digital footprint, where their responsibilities lie, cyber safety tips and ways to harness the benefits of social media.

Those who wrote the charter developed eight key areas that fellow students will be asked to commit to, including not disclosing personal details online; protecting mental health by responding appropriately to online bullying and harassment and seeking help from a trusted adult; minimising breaches by hackers and scammers; minimising the impact and use of devices; and understanding legal and moral responsibilities relating to copyright, intellectual property and plagiarism.

Special guest speaker at the June 15 launch was Sonya Ryan, founder of the Carly Ryan Foundation. Ms Ryan, whose 15-year-old daughter Carly was murdered by an online predator in 2007, said it was vitally important for young people to be equipped to make wise choices in the online space.

“An initiative such as e-fit-m, that’s driven by the students themselves, is bound to make a difference and help them to form more positive relationships both online and offline,” she said.

“The internet presents a world of opportunity and with education and the right tools, young people and families can navigate it without fear.”

Mercedes College principal Peter Daw said he was very proud of the students behind the initiative and believed it would benefit many students at the college for years to come.

“Our student leadership team was inspired to tackle the growing issues surrounding cyber safety and empower their peers to be in control of their online behaviour and interactions, as well as feel supported when engaging in the digital world,” he said.

“One of the great benefits of e-fit-m is it is a student-led initiative so it speaks directly to students in their voice, it’s relatable and it addresses some of the very real concerns they face today.”

One of the students involved in writing the charter, college captain Henry Cameron said e-fit-m would help keep cyber safety top of mind for all students.

“We felt there wasn’t really a quick easy to follow guide, which appealed to students, about how to engage online, and so e-fit-m was created,” he said.

“Each year we sign an ICT policy which isn’t reviewed regularly by students and comes from the perspective of a teacher so acts more as a warning reminder than an interactive guide.

“We believe e-fit-m will be accepted and embraced by students because it connects with their language and their concerns.”


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