Dated: 19 February 2001
The Parents Advisory Group for the Internet (PAGi) released its first annual report at a news conference held on Monday, 19 February 2001. This report covers the period from November 1999 to December 2000, reviewing the initiatives PAGi has embarked on in its first year. The report also charts the group's future plans for 2001, which include active participation in international efforts to further online safety world-wide.
PAGi Widens Reach
In the past year, PAGi reached out to 10,000 parents through a variety of initiatives. PAGi leveraged on international expertise to develop an online safety course customised for local parents. Some 400 parents participated in the online safety seminars at the ONE Learning Place. PAGi's multi-lingual Online Safety Workshops, conducted through the self-help groups, for parents who were more conversant in their mother tongue proved to be highly popular. The online arm, the PAGi website, which records about 9,000 hits monthly, has grown into a definitive 'first stop' for concerned parents, with online safety tips and resources as well as links to positive content for children. The online discussion forum continues to be a lively meeting-place for parents to share and discuss best practices on managing their children's use of the Internet.
Looking ahead, PAGi's approach to empowering parents would be two-fold:
Widen PAGi's reach to parents who may not be aware of online safety by taking the training programmes to schools and workplaces
Increase the knowledge and skills of parents who are already aware of the online safety message through customisation of training programmes.
Key programmes to support the effort include the following:
- Introduce an advanced programme for the more Net savvy parent seeking guidance on the safety aspect and enlarge the pool of volunteer trainers.
- Embark on a nationwide road show to take the online safety messages to parents. In March 2001, PAGi will be conducting a series of talks and hands-on courses for parents at Raffles Girls School, Dunman High School, and Kranji Secondary School and will add other schools to the programme in due course. PAGi will also work with community groups such as the self-help groups and TOUCH Community Services to reach a wider audience.
- Reach out to parents at the workplace. PAGi is discussing with companies such as NEC Corporation and NTUC Income to conduct lunch-time talks and workshops for parents at their premises.
- Explore collaborations with industry in online safety initiatives. PAGi is discussing the idea of creating an online safety CD-Rom and/or VCD for parents and children. These CD-Roms/VCDs will be distributed at point-of-purchase of computers and subscriptions of Internet accounts and they will be played at libraries and community centres.
- Promote the creation and use of positive online content to enable children to focus their attention on positive materials on the Internet. PAGi's Cybermumsndads will compile a recommended list of positive sites for children at the PAGi website and seek contributions of positive sites from organisations and volunteers.
Mrs Carmee Lim, Chairman, PAGi, said,"We have many interesting programmes lined up for 2001 to reach out to a wider pool of parents, particularly those who may not be able to attend workshops at centralised locations. PAGi welcomes collaboration with schools, community groups, industry and companies. It is everyone's responsibility to ensure child safety on the Internet."
PAGi Part of International Website Rating Effort
PAGi also believes that a concerted international effort is needed to ensure child online safety, and has been involved in the following activities:
- PAGi is the latest member invited to join the Board of the multinational Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA). ICRA aims to develop an international website rating system. It comprises representatives from the United States of America (USA), UK, Japan, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Spain, and South Africa.
- PAGi will be working with ICRA to develop third party templates for children, based on descriptors/vocabulary used by service providers to self-rate their content. Parents can, then, have the ability to choose the websites they want themselves and their children to view. PAGi will also complement the templates with a list of positive websites.
"We are excited about being part of this global initiative to create a safe Internet environment for our children. The templates that PAGi will be developing are for children between 8 and 12 years old because they are the most impressionable," said Mrs Lim.
- To kick-off its international efforts, PAGi is jointly organising Safe Surfing 2001, the world's first international convention on online safety, with the National Internet Advisory Committee (NIAC) from 22 to 24 Feb 2001 at the Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre. The convention has drawn industry leaders, child safety advocates, community organisations and regulators from the USA, UK, Germany, Japan, Australia, Canada and other Asia-Pacific countries. The conference aims to offer various stakeholders a central platform to discuss best practices on promoting self-regulation and safety on the Internet. Safe Surfing 2001 will be PAGi's first major contribution to international efforts to ensuring child safety on the Internet.
PAGi looks forward to an exciting year. PAGi welcomes parents who are interested to contribute to promoting online safety to join the group and help make the Internet safer for our children. For further information, parents can call the PAGi Secretariat at 837 9373.