In a connected world where bullying, suicide pacts and stalking is rife, Australian telecommunications company Telstra has invested $2 million into a program which aims to reduce the harassment of children who use the internet and mobile phones.The program, called the Telstra Foundation, will work on a grant process, allotting sums from $75,000 to organisations including software developers and the education system to “tackle cyber safety issues” including issues such as identity theft, bullying and even internet addiction – the latter of which Telstra believes can lead to vulnerability in children.
Telstra Foundation chairman, Herb Elliott AC, MBE, said children were using the internet and mobile phones at an increasingly young age, but unfortunately some were becoming victims of bullying and harassment, and even crime.
Telstra’s grant process aims to provide ways to educate young people, teenagers, teachers and parents about ways we can stay safe while still enjoying the internet.
“Sadly, there are more and more reported incidents of children and young people who are victimised at the hands of bullies or people doing the wrong thing online,” said Elliott in a press statement.
“We want to reverse this growing trend, and support programs and research that help keep kids safe while they make the most of the exciting opportunities the internet and mobile phones offer.”
According to Elliott, the cyber safety grants will primarily focus on funding programs to help educate parents about online technology, along with providing simple steps they can take to create a safe online learning and social environment for their child.
“The Telstra Foundation is putting a ‘spotlight’ on cyber safety and wants to work with people in community organisations with new ideas and solutions to help keep children safe online,” Elliott said.
Further information on the Telstra Foundation’s Cyber Safety Grants and an online application form is available at http://www.telstrafoundation.com/. Applications open on 4 February 2008 and close on 4 April 2008. Successful projects and applicants will be announced in June.