West Cork parent develops website to address children’s cyber safety

Posted on: 3rd November, 2014

Category: News

Contributor: West Cork People

Above: Left to right: Brendan Walsh, Gerardine Hayes (chairperson, Parents Association,) Michel Colaci, (parent and website developer) Ann Marie Brosnan.

A local parent and IT Specialist has developed a resource website of practical cyber safety tools from growing concern over his own children’s digital safety and from those voiced by parents of local school.

The immunizeNet website was launched last week at Sacred Heart Secondary School, Clonakilty during their Parent Information Evening, exactly a year ago from when this initiative commenced.

In collaboration with Michel Colaci, a parent and IT specialist who attended last year’s evening, a working group was established through the Parents Committee (with the support of the Principal, Ann Marie Brosnan, and Deputy-Principal, Brendan Walsh) to address parents’ concerns regarding their children’s internet and cyber safety. The findings from pilot workshops and a parent survey formed the basis of the immunizeNet ethos and website, which provides practical tools to implement up-to-date advice from easy-to-follow ‘step by step’ tutorials — all in one place. It is for the use of anyone who wishes to ensure the safety and well-being of children, digitally and online.

As Michel Colaci, founder and developer of immunizeNet explains, “There are lots of headline news stories and awareness initiatives advising parents of the potential risks children are exposed to when using the internet, social network sites and apps and they are urged to implement parental controls, filters etc and to ensure their child’s social media profiles are private and secure.

The parents we surveyed through the school initiative are aware, by and large, of the potential risks and of the above recommendations but many feel poorly equipped to implement meaningful, practical measures and are not often aware of what safety options are available to them with the various devices, software, social networks and apps their children are using.”

Four main areas of concern were:

1. The sheer variety of devices and ways that children use digital technology. 2. The frequency by which trends, apps and software change. 3. The diversity of potential risks that children are exposed to. 4. Time constraints on attending workshops and information often outdated within months.

immunizeNet has been designed on the basis of these needs, and in a unique way information is available for all the most popular devices, covering a great variety of potential risks, safety and even well-being concerns, all in one place. The entire website content is free, impartial and independent. Parents will also be updated about changes and new topics through the sites newsletter and via social media.

immunizeNet is easy to navigate and its layout has been especially designed to cater for any level of user experience — in a language and easy to follow ‘step by step’ format that doesn’t take forever to understand or implement.

Crucially, with the immunizeNet site, parents don’t have to commit to lengthy workshops or screen time but can dip in and out of learning at their convenience. The tutorials (mostly two to five minutes videos) and ‘how to’ guides can be viewed whenever it suits them, wherever they happen to be and from whatever device they are using. They can pause them, rewind or replay them — even share with others.

“Our goal was simple,” Michel concludes, “we wanted to provide parents with the practical tools to put them back in control of their children’s digital safety and wellbeing. With immunizeNet this can now be achieved.

From personal data and identity protection, content filtering and safety settings all the way to ‘screen-time’ controls and volume limits, immunizeNet is dedicated to helping parents with their child’s digital safety and well-being — and the next set of tutorials are already in production!”

View the website at: www.immunizeNet.com.

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