Julie Inman Grant, eSafety Commissioner outlines todays youth need a new set of R’s

  • Respect,
  • Resilience,
  • Responsibility, and
  • Reasoning.

Previous generations were taught that the fundamental ‘Rs’ of education were “Reading, ‘(w)riting, and ‘(a)rithmetic and while these still hold true the digitial age has added another layer of connective learning.

Young & eSafe’s 4 Rs is designed to empower our young generation and is an initiative of the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.  

Our eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant outlines the 4 R’s:

Respect—the Golden Rule to “treat others how you would like to be treated” might seem overly simplistic, but we need to be reinforcing this mantra across all lines of communication—online and offline—and it should underpin our every interaction. Not only should young people treat others with respect, they need to respect themselves and know and understand that their digital footprint should always be a positive and realistic reflection of themselves.

Responsibility—this should be taught from the first swipe of the iPad! We need to constantly remind young people that they are the most tech-savvy generation to date and they have a responsibility to shape the online world positively for generations to come. Let them know they can be the difference between a positive or negative online experience. Instil them with confidence to be vigilant both online and offline and inspire them to take a stand and be the right kind of digital influencer.

Reasoning—it can often be difficult for young people to step back and process whether information they see online is credible or true. Whether it’s an out of character Snap, shady advertising on Insta, or an outlandish tweet trending on Twitter, it’s crucial that young people stop and question. As AI and machine learning technologies continue to advance, it will only become more difficult for young people – not to mention adults – to discern what is real and what is not. This is why it’s imperative to cultivate these critical reasoning skills now, so they’re able to call out the bad stuff (and shout out the good stuff!).

Resilience—unfortunately, young people are bound to witness or experience nasty comments and may come across confronting or inappropriate content online. Blocking or limiting their access is not going to build the strength and resolve they need to withstand this potential online onslaught.  In the analogue age, we weren’t coddled quite so much as our parents knew that the only way we could cope in the real world was to fall down, brush ourselves off, learn from our mistakes and move on. We need to provide kids with solution-focused coping strategies to ensure they can bounce back from tough situations—online and offline.

We all have a part to play in leading the way for our youth—we ourselves need to model good behaviour in order for them to effectively develop the 4 Rs of online safety.  But we also need to give young people a voice so they feel empowered to continue these important online safety conversations among their peers, to create a strong culture of mutual respect where bad behaviour is not tolerated.