PM declares war on social media

It was no lesser a figure than the Prime Minister of Australia who stood in front of a press conference on Sunday and gave voice to many thousands of parents around Australia when he said something needs to be done about social media.

“Parents are worried sick about what their kids may have access to online,” he told journalists. “I think it’s the number one topic on the sidelines of football, netball and school sports that’ll be conducted on any weekend in any part of Australia.”

And look: I don’t know about the sidelines you stand on, but who’s washing the jerseys, what team we’re playing next week and whether the ref should be lynched are certainly the recurring topics on the ones I haunt. But the PM has a point nonetheless.

A trial of age-verification technology is expected to roll out around the country, under the supervision of Communications Minister, Michelle Rowland.

And while steps like age-verification are an important part of the solution when it comes to curbing the negative impact social media can have on our kids, education has just as important a role to play.

That, certainly, was our message to Minister Rowland when she came to a school in her electorate two months ago to see our free primary school media literacy program, Newshounds in action.

Because – as I’ll tell anyone who’ll listen – teaching kids to be critical consumers of information BEFORE they get a smart phone in their hands and disappear into the social media vortex is all important.

When kids are young and impressionable, that’s when you want to teach them the life skills that will serve them well as they become independent members of society.

And so: just as Hector The Cat (pictured belowtaught a generation of us to ‘stop at the curb, look to the right, look to the left, and look to the right again‘ – instilling in us road safety rules that would last a lifetime – so too is it our hope that Squiz-E the Newshound does the same for a new generation, teaching them to Stop, Think and Check whenever they’re online.

This week on Squiz Kids …

In this week’s episode of Squiz The World we hop into the Super-Fast Supersonic Squiz Kids Jet Liner and pay a visit to Japan – one of my favourite countries in the world. Did you know that 66% of Japan is covered in forest, and only 421 of its 6,852 islands have people living on them? Or that while Sydney has only 442 people per square kilometre, Tokyo has a staggering 6,158! Those fun facts and more await you in the pod, which drops tomorrow.

Don’t forget every Monday, Christie creates an excellent, curriculum-aligned classroom worksheet – or ‘Classroom Companion‘ – tied to a news story in the podcast. Totes free. Teachers, parents or home educators can sign up at squizkids.com.au.

And Friday is when we get our Kids v Adults Weekly News S’Quiz on.  Your chance to prove who’s smarter: kids or adults? Have a listen to last week’s here.

Meanwhile, on The (Big) Squiz …

A birthday shoutout to our buddies over at The (Big) Squiz this week.

The Squiz Today podcast turned 6 years old – and much like dog years, that counts for about 42 years in the podcasting world!

Squiz OG’s Claire and Kate spilled some behind the scenes podcast info (like the most random place they’ve recorded) in this little clip here. And if you’re not familiar with The Squiz Today podcast – it’s out each weekday at 6 am with a 10 minute wrap of the day’s news – and just like Squiz Kids, it’s opinion-free, agenda-free, and a bit of fun.

Hit follow on Apple or Spotify.

Meanwhile, there’s been a fair whack of news lately about youth crime, gendered violence and incarceration rates and in light of this, Kate interviewed Bernie Shakeshaft, founder of BackTrack, for News Club.

BackTrack is a community-led organisation for young people who are having a tough time, and Bernie (pictured below) talks through the challenges and successes, and what goes in to leaving no kid behind.

We’ve never had such great feedback from an episode so if you want to wrap your ears around it, have a listen here.

On our radar …

We’re up to our eyeballs all day, everyday in all things kids and parenting. So when we see an article or come across a topic we think you might be interested in, we’ll post it here.

Who needs books? … A bunch of parents in Sydney, apparently – if this report in the Sydney Morning Herald is to be believed. They’ve fired up over their school’s plan to assign kids’ reading homework on screens, rather than actual books. But does Possum Magic have the same impact on a screen?

Handwriting vs. typing … Teaming with the tech theme above, this excellent piece from The Conversation cites an in-depth academic report which has found that when it comes to cognitive development, both hand-writing and typing skills are vital for the modern kid.

Smile on your dial … 

Beyond occasionally scanning the horoscope in the weekend paper, I don’t much go in for the whole zodiac thing.

Am I a bit fastidious, or a bit bossy? Maybe. Does that have anything to do with the fact I was born on the cusp of Virgo and Leo? Pure coincidence.

Nevertheless, I found this Instagram post funny enough to warrant sharing with you all. Enjoy. Whichever constellation you were born under…

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