SCHOOL children are more connected than ever with new Telstra research revealing four in five Aussie parents will send their kids to school this year with an internet connected device.
Telstra's Cyber-Safety survey of Australian parents with children aged 10 to 17 revealed almost eight in 10 Aussie kids own a mobile phone by the time they are 13 and seven in 10 will take one to school this year.
The research also found that while school bags are increasingly packed with internet connected gadgets including mobiles, laptops and tablets, nine in ten parents have concerns about cyber-safety risks such as approaches from online strangers and cyber bullying.
Sunshine Coast Telstra Country Wide Area general manager Kris Carver said it was important for local parents to equip kids with the skills required to use new technology safely as they pack their gadget-filled bags for the new school year.
"More than 80% of the parents surveyed, told us they view internet connected technology as an important part of their child's learning and development," he said.
"However with kids taking these tech tools to school in record numbers, it's important they know how to stay safe when using them.
"Our research found that parents' cyber safety concerns don't necessarily motivate them to prepare their kids for the digital schoolyard.
"Almost half of parents (45%) admitted they haven't spoken to their children recently about how to handle approaches from cyber bullies and more than a third (37%) haven't spoken to them about how to respond if a stranger approaches them online.
"Sitting down with your child for 10 minutes to talk to them about cyber-safety essentials such as when to share personal information online, handling approaches from cyber bullies or strangers online and applying social network privacy settings will make the experience of owning a gadget a better one for kids.
"Internet connected devices such as laptops, mobile phones and mobile tablets can be just as important to learning as paper, pens and text books.
"Parents can help ensure their children have a positive experience with these technologies by involving themselves in their children's use of the internet, keeping an eye on how they interact with others and regularly talking to them about what online behaviour is acceptable."
The research also revealed parents' top concerns: unsolicited contact by strangers is the single greatest cyber-safety concern (with 34% citing it as their top concern) followed by cyber bullying (15.3%) and unsupervised access to information (14.7%).
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