Sunday, 28 Sep 2014

New cybersafety threat

Fuelled by the rise of the internet, the parenting landscape continues to change at breakneck speed. Staying on top of ways to protect children online can seem difficult, especially for time poor parents, or those who aren't as technically savvy as their kids.

A disturbing new online trend has recently come to light in Brisbane. Known as "sprouting", an open Instagram account called “Brisbane Sprouters” is encouraging young girls in Years 8, 9 and 10 to send in their “hottest” photographs for hundreds of followers to view.

The term “sprouter” is used to describe a young boy or girl who will eventually “sprout” into an attractive adult. Understandably, the site has terrified Brisbane parents and placed police on alert.

Taskforce Argos detective Senior Sergeant Stephen Loth said police were monitoring the practice. He said the public nature of the accounts and the identifying information was “a concern”.

“Children need to understand that once they take a photo of themselves and push it on social media, they lose complete control over that image,” Mr Loth said.

“We've had numerous investigations where child sex offenders have used photos that are publicly available to obtain further material from children.”

Did you know?

  • 61% of 8 -11 year olds use the internet at home and spend an average of 30 minutes online each day.
  • 83% of young people aged 12-14 used the internet at home for an average of 92 minutes each day.

Source: Click and Connect: Young Australians use of online social media,
Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Life Education recognises the importance of educating children from an early age about staying safe online.

So we’ve created a free, fun and interactive game, with our partner McAfee, called bCyberwise Monster Family for parents and carers to play together with their children. bCyberwise Monster Family is based on our 'bCyberwise’ module that we deliver in schools which focuses on cybersafety, cyber ethics and building positive relationships with friends online and offline.

You can download the bCyberwise Monster Family game here.

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