How to Handle Cyber Security with the New Generation – Ep 33

In this Episode

In this episode, Mike chats with Co-Founder of The Cyber Safety Project, Trent Ray, about how to protect youth online, how parents can help their children safely navigate the dangers of the cyber world, and the different types of cyberspaces children inhabit.

Podcast Episode Highlights

0:16 Meet today’s guest Trent Ray
1:07 Pros and cons of the digital platform
2:40 Get to know about Cyber Safety Project
6:34 The perspective of the younger generation
10:41 Dealing with the dangers of the cyber world
21:04 Why conversation is important
22:31 Types of cyber danger
25:14 Different kinds of cyberspaces
33:31 Importance of IT managers
41:35 AIA Safety Commission
46:28 The benefits of a family workshop
50:11 Positive effects of online gaming
52:22 Physical vs online sports


Mike Reading:  00:16
Welcome back to the OutClassed podcast. It’s my great pleasure today to be speaking with Trent Ray from the Cyber Safety Project in Australia. Trent, I guess we’ve got a relationship that goes back seven, eight years, maybe?

Trent Ray:  00:33
Around seven or eight years.

Mike Reading:  00:36
When we first started doing some work with Microsoft, you were there as one of their digital trainers. What was your role back then?

Trent Ray:  00:43
I think my role was a teacher ambassador actually, back in the day.

Mike Reading:  
So you’ve been working with different schools around Microsoft technologies, mainly based out of Victoria, and the Melbourne region, and have since left that role and started your Cyber Safety Project. So I’m really keen to hear a little bit about that, and a bit about you.

Mike Reading:  01:07
The reason I asked you onto this call, Trent, was like I’m seeing – obviously with Covid – there’s been a massive spike in students online. We’re seeing some obvious pros and cons to that, I guess.

Some of the pros are that the students are maybe a little bit more digital savvy, the teaches are coming up to speed with that. And we’re seeing some real innovation happening in pockets of education, which is great.

But then there’s a downside to that where we’re seeing students online a lot, we’re seeing the opportunity for more harm to be done. Whether that’s psychologically, whether it’s grooming, or even from a security point of view.

So yeah, really keen to dive into what you’re seeing in the market at the moment, what you’re seeing with the schools that you work with, and so on. Welcome to the call. It’s great to have you here.

Trent Ray:  02:00
Thanks so much, Mike, really looking forward to our conversation as well. And it’s great to, after all of these years, be able to sort of reconnect again and have a bit of a chat to have a conversation about a really important topic.

And something that as you said, it’s just growing in nature. And there’s a real need for the conversation to be had with educators, with parents and younger people as well. So yeah, thanks for having me.

Mike Reading:  02:23
Yeah, awesome. Let’s dive in. I mean, you’re running a company called The Cyber Safety Project. We hear a lot about digital citizenship and digital safety, and you’ve got cyber safety. How do you define what you do with the whole cyber safety side of things?

Trent Ray:  02:40
Yeah, I think there’s a lot of different, I guess, meta language out there around this topic isn’t there? And I think digital citizenship is kind of more of a holistic understanding of how we live, learn, connect and play successfully in the online world.

And I think that that’s something that we all whether you’re a young person, or even an adult, using technology, you know, we all need to be developing skills around our abilities to navigate the online world and participate appropriately, effectively and safely.

So I think digital citizenship is kind of like the broader term or the umbrella term for a lot of other areas that really need to be focused on. So safety is absolutely one of those things, but you can’t have a safety conversation without talking about security. And you can’t have a safety and security conversation without talking about well being. Because, you know, technology today is so embedded in everything that we do.

You know, if you imagine a day without any technology, it would be very different today, even to what it was five years, or ten years ago. So it’s constantly evolving and moving and changing. And I guess, having some digital citizenship skills, or DQ or digital intelligence is really important. And it’s always ever-changing. So we need to be continually talking about that.

Mike Reading:  03:57
So digital, what did you just say? It’s the digital IQ, kind of

Trent Ray:  04:02
like digital IQ, or DQ is digital intelligence. And I guess that that’s kind of knowing some of the nuances that sort of exists within the technology world. And I think, you know, there’s actually a great resource that exists. And I think many teachers that might be on listening to this would know called Common Sense Media, or even families, which has got some fantastic resources around, I guess, understanding how to make sense of the online world and digital media.

But I think when we really reflect on what we know of kids and young people is that the IQ or digital intelligence, digital citizenship, safety, well being and security isn’t always common sense. Yeah. And we need to be making sure that we’re promoting and informing to empower young people around what they need to know and understand. I think we all often expect that young people know how to do everything online or that they know how to navigate technology.

And for years we’ve always been talking about this idea of a digital native; where they grow up with this technology, and it’s just part of their world. And yes, they’re awesome at navigating technolo when they pick it up; they somehow intuitively have some great skills in being able to problem solve and critically think about what they’re doing on there. But sometimes they’re just really naive to what could happen and what could be experienced in that space. And I think that’s the same for adults as well.

Mike Reading:  05:25
So here’s my question. This leads beautifully to what I’m trying to understand. To be honest, I’m a little bit removed from the classroom now. So I just do teacher training, mainly working with adults, but I see my own kids and their friends and so on. And to me, it’s not like they’re naive as such to some of the dangers, it’s just that they just plain don’t care.

It’s almost like, I don’t know if it’s like that frog in the kettle analogy, where you just raise the temperature a little bit by a little bit, you’re getting cooked in, you don’t know that you’re getting cooked. But like I said, I’m like, don’t set up Snapchat that way. I don’t know, maybe I sound like an old man. But I’m just like, you got to think about all the data, what they’re doing with those data lakes and how they’re building profiles on it.

They’re like, I don’t care. Now, you might not care now, but then in 10 years time when this goes and accounts towards you’ve been able to get a loan for a house, for instance, you might care, I like to deal with that when I get to it. So is that naive? I’m really keen to understand what is behind that. And what you see from the conversations you have with students all the time, and parents and teachers alike, what is behind that?

Trent Ray:  06:34
It depends on what age group we’re talking about here, too. There are definitely that group of students or younger people today in our society and we would probably call them that teenage area right now that have actually grown up with very little proactive education around this. So they’ve just had to learn it themselves. And I guess that they’re seeing the benefits of that connection, or that gameplay or the use of technology in their everyday lives as actually more beneficial, and that risk versus reward.

So they’re kind of thinking, Yeah, look, it might happen to me, but it might not. And we do that with lots of decisions and risks that we take all the time. I guess if we think about the teenage brain as it’s developing, it’s actually wired to take risks. So they’re quite happy to take some of those risks, knowing that some of us might actually encounter a stranger or a tricky person or be, you know, bullying online. But they, I guess, have already got some strategies that have been drilled into them around what they can do to protect themselves.

And I think if we think about ourselves, when we were teenagers, it was like, I’m a teenager, I’m going to enjoy life right now. And I’ll worry about being an adult a little bit later. So I think we’ve kind of got this, this in our program is kind of like a guess. We work with kids today that have already exposed to this stuff, they know everything, and maybe even more than we do as adults about the risks and the challenges. But they’ve, it’s kind of like the horse has already bolted. So it’s thinking differently about how we can empower them.

And I think that, you know, some of the research that’s been done even by the University of New South Wales commission from the Safety Commissioner, is that young people today are saying, you know, what they want is for adults to, or they want to be confident that adults have knowledge about this stuff, so that they can turn to and seek help and support when they need to. So rather than it being about, I guess, this scare tactic, or this stigma that we might put on young people about technology, because they love it, they use it every day.

That’s how they connect and play. And we all experienced that, too. And we see the benefits of technology as well. But if we’re not, I guess empowering them to be part of that conversation, and they’ve just got adults telling them, you’ve got to be safe, you’ve got to protect your data, telling them this stuff, doesn’t really inspire them, or make them feel empowered to make good choices. So what we’ve kind of tried to be doing a little bit more of recent times, is really thinking about that particular group of young people, teenagers, and how we can empower them to gain the knowledge, look at their own personal context and see what they actually care about.

And then embed strategies and suggests ideas and tell stories about how they can overcome those things. And really give them an arm them with the tools to be able to teach each other. And I think that that strategy is working a lot better than just having, you know, for example, when we had a critical incident at our school, it was a bit of a reactive process where we got someone in after the fact that something that had occurred with some students in our school, it was the police that came in and all they did was just scare tactic the kids and they just switched off. They stopped listening.

Because they’re like, Well, hang on, mate. I’m already on here. I do all this stuff already. You’re not telling me anything I don’t already know. And so that’s, I guess the strategy that we’re trying to shift and move move away from now.

Mike Reading:  09:49
Yeah, we did do some very light touch stuff. With a contractor we had with the school we got the parents in just to show them like what is Snapchat? What is Um, some of these tools that the students using Instagram, just for their parents, because the parents don’t have a clue, they can’t really talk to their kids about it. And the kids don’t want them to know about it in a lot of cases, because they’ll have their public.

Hey, look, mom, dad can see this one. And here’s my hidden in Store account. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So, one of the it was interesting, because one of the parents came up and said, I’m a COPPA. Police officer, you want me to scare the hell out of everyone? I was like, Well, what good is that going to do when you rather empower someone to know what this platform is and how it works.

So then you can have a conversation with you, with your son or your daughter about what they’re doing and where they’re at. And just let them know, you know, a little bit

Trent Ray:  10:41
And I think that’s the that’s the approach that’s needed. Parents don’t know what they don’t know. But also, it feels overwhelming. As a parent, when it’s not your world. When you don’t play games, when you don’t necessarily use social network. You don’t even know what conversations to be starting with your children. The other thing is, it’s like, well, there’s Snapchat, there’s Instagram, there’s Facebook, there’s discord.

There’s these online games. And you know, there’s all this stuff that I need to learn as a parent. But that feels really overwhelming. But if we actually look at them in context around, okay, what is social networking? What is social media? What is gaming looking like today? And what are some of the guarantees, no matter whether your child comes home from schools and says, I’m going to start using chat, Snapchat, or I’m going to use tick tock? What are the basic fundamentals within them?

How they’re going to be exposed to, you know, who are they connecting with? And how can they connect, you know, looking into the content that they might be exposed to and see on these platforms as well. And then also, I guess, looking at the collection of data, and just knowing and understanding a little bit more about those processes that all social networks and most online platforms today, we’ll be embedding is the first step, and then arming them with conversation starters, and ways that they can build those positive relationships with their kids.

Mike, we actually did some research with some high school students last year, so four and a half 1000 secondary students from year seven to year 12. We survey every, all schools wet before we go in there to get the context of what the challenges are in their community or their cohorts. And one of the really interesting things was we asked, you know, who who would you turn to for support and help if something went wrong for you, and two out of three kids said their friends, wow.

And that means that one out of three kids is talking to their trusted adult or a parent or grandparent or teacher, when when these things are occurring to them. So we’ve got to do more to bridge that gap to give kids confidence to be talking to their parents, but also then giving parents and adults the skills to be able to have really meaningful, balanced and even positive conversations about technology.

Because I think kids are just hearing, be safe, don’t do this, don’t do that, rather than the why and sitting down and having a really important conversation that’s not accusing them of doing something wrong, but just helping to highlight some of the challenges and risks around things.

Mike Reading:  13:02
Yeah, I think understanding it. Like, when we talk to our daughter, she was obviously on Snapchat, and at school, and we’re just be like, you don’t need it. And to be honest, like we, you know, pre COVID would travel away for a month with a family come back and quite often different time zones and, and we’re just active and doing things out seeing seeing the world and like my daughter would fall behind.

So like on Snapchat, we didn’t even know that there was like this whole social ranking system, right? Where you the amount of messages and put you in a BFF on streets, this, and she’d be like freaking out that she’s gonna miss out on the streets. And then everyone would see that she had dropped in somebody else would be. And I’m like, Well, what are you going to do when you’re on a 24 hour flight, and you got no access to Wi Fi? Right?

It’s just not reality in the world and the world that I saw, or anyway, the world that she saw was so different. And so for us, as parents were like, you just don’t need it, like, get off that thing for a week, it’s not gonna kill you. But then in her world, it’s totally different. So unless you have a contextual understanding of what pressure the kids are under, then you can’t really have a meaningful conversation in that context. Anyway, right.

Trent Ray:  14:14
That’s it. And I mean, your daughter may have done something really unsafe, which we know is a key trend on Snapchat to keep your streak scores going with your friends. If I’m going to be on a 24 hour flight, I’m gonna give all my friends my username and password so that they can log in with me. And then we don’t lose our street score. And we’re hearing that like, we, we work in secondary schools. And, you know, we love to ask the question, like, what’s your highest street score you’ve ever gotten?

We’ve had kids say, you know, 900 to 1100. That’s every day for like three years that they have not been drawn back to the app every single day that at least snap back to their friend. And that’s, I guess, the strategy that Snapchat users to draw their users in every single day. I mean, Snapchats completely free and they make billions of dollars every year. Yeah, because they’ve got all of their users hooked, or they’ve got strategies embedded within there to to draw them in. And I don’t even think Snapchat would have thought about the ramifications or the safety by design context around, if we’ve got young people using our app, and they’re getting really excited about getting that social cred with their friends around those street scorers, that then they’re going to start giving their friends their login details to Snapchat, which is your personal space online.

And then, you know, for example, your daughter’s friends can pretend to be her, they can change your settings, they can turn off ghost mode, there’s so many risks around that. And I think, you know, if parents understand that, then they can, over time have really regular ongoing conversations with their children about how well you know, if you’re checking Snapchat at the end of the night, and during your bedroom, and you’re saying goodnight to all your buddies, and you’re sending your final snap off, if you’ve got ghost mode turned off on there, then that could be big, giving away our whole family’s location. And if you’ve got over 500 followers, which is the average amount of followers a young person has on Snapchat, you know, there is possibly someone with Mal intent that can see exactly where we live.

Mike Reading:  16:09
Worse than that, one of the things we didn’t get either, I mean, this was such a journey for us. If you’re because you’ve got you can see everyone’s location, because the kids are logging on and they’re like, Oh, my friends are together in that person’s house, and I wasn’t invited. And then there’s just a whole level of a new level of bullying, where they’ll orchestrate to get together and purposely not invited someone so that they can see on a map that they weren’t I mean, that’s a whole nother level of cruelty that we never had to deal with. Right. And I think

Trent Ray:  16:39
That’s the the inner leaf for today’s young people to be able to escape some of these, you know, social challenges. And the issues with having to not only deal with developing social skills in the offline context, like what we did when we were growing up, they also have to learn a whole nother set of social skills in the online world.

So you know, when you talk about digital citizenship, that’s why you can’t just have an isolated conversation about data breaches or security or safety, we also have to talk about that well being pillar, because there are so many nuances within these different platforms that allow these types of behaviors to start festering and creating, and those environments can return really negative really quickly.

Mike Reading:  17:23
Yeah, so then, like, how do you how do you attack all this? Because that seems overwhelming, right? Like even my daughter, now she’s left left school and got a boyfriend, and she knows where he is at all times. I think there’s a whole nother level of relationship that like, like, how do you there’s so many complex levels to this, at different ages, and obviously, getting younger and younger students being brought into this world, like, what’s your approach? Like what I mean, you’ve talked about your pillars, but where do you even start having a conversation as a school or a parent or a teacher with your class around?

Trent Ray:  17:56
Well, you know, I think one of the things that, you know, for maybe for many years, and it’s interesting that we’re still at, I feel that we’re still at the point, if not, it’s worse than it was before, doing some learning within schools, but it’s actually, it’s broader than just what we can do singularly, like as a school, it’s, you know, we have to have all of our stakeholders involved in this. And I’d extend it not just from parents, I’d be talking about the carers of your kids as well, like their grandparents is, you know, because they spend just as much time with their mobile phone in their hand at grandparents places as well. And there’s a whole nother level to that. Our our approach is a whole community approach.

So we work with schools, with the students, with the teachers with the parents, but we don’t do it in isolation. So it’s not about going and putting the kids in a room and just talking to them, and then talking to the teachers and just talking to them as well. We want to provide opportunities for these young people to actually build meaningful relationships with the trusted adults in their world to be able to have these regular ongoing, and even sometimes systematic conversations at the right time. So it’s about having a framework as a school into where these types of conversations sit. And it’s great getting like, for example, us as a cyber safety project to come in. And we do this with many schools once a year.

But we don’t want to just come in for one opportunity and talk to your kids for 60 minutes and you like tick the box that cyber safety digital well being cybersecurity conversation has been had. I mean, kids don’t just use it at the start of the year. They use it all year. So we actually want to empower the community to have the skills and resources to be able to really, I guess, have these conversations on an ongoing basis. And if we don’t have that in place, and we don’t have someone potentially within the school driving that on an ongoing basis, then we do see bigger issues within schools that don’t have a systematic approach to this.

So I think education informing to empower and that regular ongoing opportunity So those discussions to be had, because as a young person develops, they’re going to be engaging differently with technology. And we have to be kind of almost a step ahead, and a bit more proactive in our approach. And I think if we can continue that approach and be a bit more proactive and thinking ahead, you know, even three years ago, we were talking about, you know, social media with kids in grade five, and six to prepare them for when, you know, in Australia, for example, where I’m based, you know, it’s kind of like the rite of passage to get your first mobile phone in the seven. But it’s kind of like grade five now.

So we’re now moving that conversation with our grade threes and fours. Because you know, we have to be ahead of the game in thinking about how are we preparing them, we can’t just teach that concept or that lesson or that idea, or help embed that. And unless we’ve had time to do that.

Mike Reading:  20:49
So if you’re going to talk to say you have three or four students, and you’ve got all this stuff, you could tell them. But if you could only tell them one thing, or have a discussion around one thing, what do you think of that one thing that year, three, four level, and then we’ll pick on a high school student as well. So

Trent Ray:  21:04
yeah, yeah, well, I think now that you’ve met, now, you’ve asked me to choose my favorite topic. It’s like, choosing my favorite child or so I think the fundamental thing that we learned really early on when we developed the cyber safety project was the why conversation, why it’s not always safe online. So we were teaching some grade five students.

And so we now do this, whether it’s foundation right through to you, 12, we’re teaching some grade five students at a really well known school here in Melbourne, and a young person came up to us at the end of the session, as many of them will do and just say, thanks. And I said, thanks for that session. And she said, we’ve had lots of these cyber safety lessons before. But this is the first time anyone’s ever told me why it’s not safe online. So I think we’re as adults, we’re often asking kids to be safe, or we’re telling them to be safe. But maybe that why conversation isn’t happening first.

And, you know, when we talk about learning intentions as a high impact teaching strategy, and we should be doing that in our classrooms, you know, we need to be doing that before we start having those deeper conversations and allowing kids to have those that dialogue. So the whys really important. So I’d say that would fit in with it, wherever. But can I have one more topic that I think is really important for that age group of grade three fours?

Mike Reading:  22:25
You can but can you tell me what, what is the why? Like,

Trent Ray:  22:28
why? Yes.

Mike Reading:  22:29
The why? Well,

Trent Ray:  22:29
you know, technology itself, isn’t that dangerous, it’s actually the people that you encounter. So for, you know, the dialogue that we use is tricky people. So there are people online that are online criminals that are probably trying to scam you, or hack into your systems to collect your data to either sell it or gain some sort of benefit from and tricky. People will often try to ask questions or set things up in a way to fool you online. And we need to have, I guess, some schools around identifying that. We also have strangers.

And these are people that we’ve never met before in the offline world. And the stranger danger conversation is familiar to them. But I guess helping them understand there’s a difference between recognizing Australian your offline versus recognizing a stranger online, because it’s right now, and even more so with deep fakes, for example, and you know, all sorts of audio synthesizing tools to change voices and things. It’s not, it’s basically 100% thing, it’s not 100% possible to verify somebody in the online world as being real and who they truly are, who they say they are.

So depending on what age group, when we talk about strangers as well, we can start having that conversation about people who are much older, potentially pretending to be somebody else to gain images and pictures of you and those sorts of things as well. And then I think the third reason why it’s unsafe for kids and adults is unkind people, it’s really easy for people to be keyboard cowards and savings from behind a screen compared to what they would in a face to face environment.

So when we go online, we’re more likely to be exposed to negative comments trolling or even unkind behavior. Because either it can be someone you know, but it can also just be a fake account that you don’t even you cannot even work out who this is. So there’s sort of the three wise and I think that those people are really what make it unsafe for everybody online.

Mike Reading:  24:21
Yeah. Yeah. So I mean, at the end of the day, it’s not prohibition, right. It’s not, we don’t want you to using these tools. And it’s not, you need to stay away from this stuff. But at the end of the day, we want you to have a good experience on it really, right.

Trent Ray:  24:33
And we walk in there and talk about all the fun things that we can do online and these tricky people, strangers, and unkind people, they are getting in the way of us enjoying what we’re there to do, which is to connect with our friends, to play with our friends to learn new things to explore the world.

There’s so many great things about technology, but there’s just these people that are going to make it hard for us. So you know, arming them with strategies and you ask kids do you want to be safe when you’re online? They’re like, yeah, Yes, but they’ve maybe just haven’t kind of been given the strategies or skills just keep themselves safe. So that’s my junior perspective anyway. But when we hit the high school kids, they’re like we already know this night.

Mike Reading:  25:10
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that’s cool. All right, before we hit high school, tell me a second thing you wanted to?

Trent Ray:  25:14
Yeah, I think for young people, when they pick up a device, they just sort of see this idea of the Word Online. But there’s kind of different spaces, you can go when you go online, you either go into personal spaces, which are spaces, which are just for yourself, just you like, I’ve got lots of those persons basis. And you were to mark like your internet banking, your email inbox, those sorts of things. And then we have private spaces.

And this is where I think the conversation often is kind of needed around really explicit language with young people about the spaces that they go, because we talk about this idea of having like private spaces. So it might be this is a private space between you and I, right now, it’s a zoom call, it’s just you and I in here, we haven’t shared the link with anybody else. But that kind of notion of the word private, is also kind of this idea of things that are just for me.

So we have to help kids know that when they’re in a private space online, I mean, like you’re recording this, I could screenshot this, if you say something to me on here, I can show all of my friends. So it’s actually not really private, it’s private at the moment, because it’s just us. But the stuff we say and doing here isn’t going to end up public, when you post this podcast is going to be on a public platform, and everyone’s going to be able to see see, see that. So knowing where you are online, and then making choices around the types of security, you might put over something because we have different accounts for different things.

So you know, personal, private and public spaces online and defining that and categorizing all of the games and apps that we play in the ways that we play that. I mean, you and I love Minecraft, for example. And that can be all three of those spaces. So that’s a way we kind of explained that to kids. And they really make sense of it. Because you can play on your own on your iPad. You can set up a world in Minecraft and your Mum can text message, your friend’s mum the code, and then we can play collaboratively together in a private world.

Or we could go to Minecraft and hit the Server button and play in public service as well. So we’re more unlikely to experience connecting with those tricky people, strangers, and unkind people in public service.

Mike Reading:  27:15
Yeah. Okay. Now that makes sense. I think when you layer those two things together, sort of gives you a bit of a context like I can see where you’re going with this. And I think it makes sense. So. And just on that before we move on to the high schools, the like, from adults telling kids all the time, maybe it’s at that age, it’s not as big of a deal.

But you know how you said you go in your survey? And when they ask, Who do you turn to your friends, right? They’re not turning to a teacher? So how do you get students to support each other? And maybe at what year level? Or what age? That is a bit more of a strategy that rather than the teacher says.

Trent Ray:  27:56
So I guess there are a few pillars that are all online safety educators who are endorsed by the E-Safety Commissioner. So e But are you and we’re one of those schools, and we do communities of practice. And one of the things that we do when we get together is talking about, you know, what are the fundamental things that we need to help kids understand, and that is to learn help-seeking strategies.

So you know, one of the things that is tricky, if you’re a year seven kid, and a friend, discloses to you that, you know, I’m talking to an online predator, or someone’s bullying me, that’s a big responsibility for a young person to be able to then support that friend through those challenges. So I guess it’s about having, promoting those help-seeking strategies like the Kids Helpline, like reporting and you know, the reporting system through a safety. But when we address that, I guess with kids, we start probably from year five onwards, where we start to talk about how we can support our friends if things are going wrong online.

And actually asking them what four steps that you could take if something is going wrong to take control of any online challenge four steps to take control. And, you know, we kind of give them some strategies, we ask them to share some with us. And then we get them to go back together and empower them to come up with like the four-step process that they could do themselves. And then sharing those those those ways. And I guess we can do that with kids, right up until year nine and 10.

Mike Reading:  29:28
Yeah, yeah, right. Nice. All right, let’s hit high school. Like what’s your favorite topic for that high school environment?

Trent Ray:  29:36
Yeah, it’s sort of tuning in and waking up. So one of the things that I think kids are really interested in is actually learning more about the digital world rather than being told, you know, don’t do this. Don’t do that. They’ve heard the cyberbullying messages.

You know, they understand this idea of keeping my information private and being careful with what I share. But one of the things I think is, you know, helping them to understand what it is Is the apps are truly doing to try to capture and keep our attention.

And when we can kind of give them those ideas, they start to get a little mad, I guess, like they start to get a little frustrated that they’ve kind of been blindsided in a way. And so that conversation is always a really engaging one to have with young people. And they start to sort of share well, how do you, I guess, take that control back?

What are you doing as young people? And what are your ideas and getting them to communicate and talk with each other about what they’re doing to kind of stop tik tok from sending me a notification at 705 Every morning, because my alarm goes off at seven and tick tock has been profiling me and knows that that’s about when I’m actually opening my phone. And they go, Well, let’s let’s work against this now.

And let’s come up with ways to kind of, I guess, stop them taking advantage of me and taking that control back. And I think that’s a really engaging conversation to have with teenagers. Because it opens up a bigger conversation about what we see online, how they’re feeding information to us through algorithms, and then what strategies they can do to kind of, you know, work around that.

Mike Reading:  31:04
Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. I think that whole empowerment piece. Yeah, definitely. I think when we’ve had conversations, just like with my kids, friends, I don’t even realize that they’ve been targeted. They just think notifications, or just having or particular videos, just so happen to show up. I was like, No, everything’s by design. And they’re like, oh, wow, really? Okay. That whole gaming the system, I think, kind of gets their attention a little bit like,

Trent Ray:  31:32
it doesn’t. And I like to learn a little bit about like, the science of our brains and how psychologists and, you know, these strategists have really sat down to think about how am I going to, you know, capture the world’s attention so that we can make billions of dollars. And you know, just being aware of that is the first step. And obviously, you know, even as adults, we know, this stuff’s happening to us, right?

But we’re still in the system of that we got, it’s not like, we’re gonna go, I’m gonna boycott tic tock, because I know what they’re doing to me, you know, you’re still using Tiktok, right? So it’s like, we know it’s happening to us. But when we can be aware of it, then we can start to build our habits around that it’s when we’re not aware of it, that we can kind of lose control.

And that’s where we see particularly our most vulnerable people in the community, really, I guess, finding it difficult to engage in those areas, or have a healthy balance when it comes to leaving and connecting and playing online.

Mike Reading:  32:27
Yeah, yeah, it’s interesting, because you can know the theory. But then in practice, like in our world, we’ll talk to teachers about password security, and then know that they shouldn’t have the same password and more than one account, and they probably, but again, a lot of them never heard of a password manager. And they’re just like, well, what is this? Got

Trent Ray:  32:48
them on the post it note on? Yeah, when they’re sitting next to their colleague in a planning meeting, and we can see all of your passwords, yeah, right?

Mike Reading:  32:55
Legitimately. So there’s a difference between knowing it and actually doing it like putting in place a procedure or method or a process to stay safe and even, like, I’m interested in the role of it and all of these two, because like it know that you should have multi authentication turned on, like to step off.

But they don’t do it because it’s too much of a hard conversation I have teachers about you need to pull out your phone and verify that you logging in. So even at that level, like we’ve talked about students and teachers and parents a little bit, but like, what’s, where do you see the role of it? And all of this?

Trent Ray:  33:31
Yeah, I mean, the, the role of the IT manager or it, you know, coordinator in any school is tricky, because, you know, you kind of I guess, you’ve got this balance of, you know, all of this stuff. And an IT manager will often do that. But it’s also trying to find ways to make our jobs easier sometimes. And like you said, I mean, that can be really tricky.

But I think that if we have, I guess the role of an IT manager is to be making sure that they’re communicating with the education side of things as well. And I think that’s the biggest, you know, when I was working at Microsoft, and we were working nationally, supporting schools all over the place, it was a really similar experience. I’d walk into a school, the IT team were in one area of the school and the educator leader and the education team and the curriculum team and the well being team sit on the other side of school.

They’re not even experiencing the same issues. You know, you’ve got in a secondary school, you know, you’ve got your coordinators, and you live your level managers, not really communicating with the IT managers about the incidences and and things that are occurring and the nuances of the behaviors that are going on as well. So when I think the biggest gap that I’m noticing in lots of schools is that there’s that conduit between educators and the teaching and learning side of things and the needs from that perspective being met, but also the security things being met.

And I think when they marry together really well in a school, and there’s many schools doing great things with this as well. I’m Sa, that’s when we see a lot more success around a range of things being developed across the digital citizenship, or the DEQ, kind of digital intelligence board, because we’ve got the IT manager saying this is what we need to have in place, it’s actually a non negotiable, it’s a way that we can protect our entire community. But if we can’t explain why that’s going to be helpful to us in the long run, and then give teachers resources to be able to manage that, then that’s where it falls down.

Mike Reading:  35:31
Yeah, again, that why is so important, right? Because if an IT department, their default is no, like, we’re not turning on that app, we’re not giving access, like some of the big departments of education we work with, for instance, like you can’t even turn a Chrome extension on. Because it’s got to go through a full risk assessment.

You know, you got to see what they’re going to do with your data and all this, I get it, that’s super important. But what we find happening on the back of that, is that the teachers just go around the system, or they’ll find ways to get it done. Right. So

Trent Ray:  36:06
like teenager? Yeah, yeah, that’s Yeah, they’ll, they’ll, they’ll work out a way to get around it, and then they’ll end up using an app that’s even more unsafe. So, you know, they’ll go to a web to tool that requires kids to create a user account with their school email address and put some personal data in.

And that could be, you know, they have that website hasn’t updated their policies since 2015. So you’re right, there needs to be that conversation happening. And you know, when we can keep them within our own private ecosystems, like the Microsoft or Google platforms, then we’ve got this ability to pull in these extensions, and there can be, you know, safety measures put in place, it’s just about us knowing and understanding knowledge is power, isn’t it? Knowledge is power.

Mike Reading:  36:47
Yeah, yeah. And I said it people all the time, your role, your role is not necessarily to keep students and teachers safe. Your role in an education context is to enable learning in a safe environment. And so safety is super important. It’s those learning, right?

We can’t, we’ve got to find ways to keep innovating in that learning space, whilst keeping people safe and accountable. So on that, are you like, if you’re talking to a school? Are you more down the side of let’s filter the internet, let’s block stuff?

Or are you more like, let’s just give them training, very trustworthy? We’ll deal with those opportunities to discuss what went wrong afterwards. Like, where do you sit? In that strategic discussion?

Trent Ray:  37:33
Yeah, I mean, so again, I think it just depends where you are, and the context of that particular environment and the maturity level of that schools integration of technology, and how long they’ve been doing it for. You know, we’ve got schools all around the world that are doing amazing things with lots of different open based technologies.

But if they haven’t got the processes, the policies and the people driving those education outcomes that need to come with that before we can let them do those things, then I would say, Let’s lock it down as much as we can. But where we have those things that we can comfortably say, we are creating a safe environment for these behavioral these educational outcomes and the pedagogies that we want to embed, then we would be more likely to encourage that open open space.

And the where we see the problem is that when you’ve got an image to assist ecosystem in a school that’s just starting out in this area, and they then want to do what that aspirational school is doing. And they want to have everything open. That’s where we see problems happening, because it hasn’t been a structured and framework strategy around it.

Mike Reading:  38:45
Yeah. Yeah. That’s interesting. So if there’s one thing to try and, like if you if you’re saying like a fundamental thing a school should consider in terms of policy or approach in taking that next step to more open, and I guess environments, like what would be where would you start on that? Like, what would be like, a conversation you’d kick off with?

Trent Ray:  39:05
Well, the first thing is, you know, one of the things that we do when we get to a school is we walk around and ask the kids some of the questions from the IT use agreement. Okay, and teachers as well. And it’s really interesting to see that they don’t really know much about it, yet. They’ve signed it.

Yeah. So one of the fundamental things that if you’ve got any policy or procedure in your school, that if you can’t walk around and have people say, Oh, that’s where I can go, if I’ve got a problem, I can go to those five step flowchart to check out what my steps would be if they don’t know it off the top of their head, or I know that this is a an agreed protocol at our school or a process or a policy, then I think that’s where we’ve got to start. Right?

Education, if they need to be engaging with it, it needs to be accessible, it needs to be visible, and it needs to be understood by the whole community, not just the people who wrote it.

Mike Reading:  39:57
Yeah. And on that, like quite often what of school. So do you have a BYOD template we can just use? Or do you have a policy document that we can scrape, so to speak? I mean, what where do you sit on? You know, you got to write it to your own context versus something that’s maybe template, or maybe you have templates that you give schools with, I don’t know. But

Trent Ray:  40:16
yeah, templates are fine. But again, if you’ve got the template in your hot little hand, it’s then what you do with that as a tool. It’s like anything, you know, it can be it’s like word, it can be used well, or it can be used poorly, a Word document could be used in our policy.

That is just a template. It’s how you go about all the things that you put around that policy, your education, how you communicate it, how you make it understood who you get involved to contribute to that, you know, when schools have got stakeholders, like parents, teachers, leadership, IT management, and students embedded in creating that, and then creating a set of steps to how this is going to be communicated to each different audience is fundamental.

Mike Reading:  40:59
Yeah, yeah. So do you see like, we’ve talked about some of the issues? And it seems like it’s a massive problem. And it probably is. Like, do you see that there’s light at the end of the tunnel? Do you see? Like, obviously, you’re in this because you care.

And you do. Like, if you weren’t making a difference? I’m sure you’d be like, I’m not here to make money. I’m here to make a difference. Knowing you personally, like, what do you see is like some of that, if a school is like in turmoil right now, like how fast can you turn it around? Or what you do understand the question I’m trying to,

Trent Ray:  41:35
like, absolutely do it, sometimes it feels like you’re pushing against the ocean, right? And there’s so much out there that we need to know and understand about this space. But I think that this won’t, that’s why we feel like we need to exist. Because without it that that, you know, any step that you can take to protect one young person or a community, it’s worth doing what you’re doing.

But I guess that if you know a school is in turmoil, and they’ve kind of hit this, I guess they’ve gone over the curve. And now it’s a bit of a slippery slope down. There are, there are lots of things that we can do. But the other thing is, I’m really confident that we are moving in the right direction as a society. So one of the things that we’re lucky here in Australia, and I know you’ve got Netsafe, in New Zealand, and different countries do different things. But we’ve got the AIA Safety Commissioner here in Australia, where there’s laws and legislations coming into play. But even conversations like safety by design, are really at the forefront right now and expectations around that.

So I can see that there’s some really good things developing. And I think that we’re maturing as a society and understanding that this stuff’s not going away. And we need to now put safety, security and wellbeing at the forefront. So that discussion is happening now. And I guess we also are seeing so many more schools now working with the education systems, being able to all partner with organizations like you realizing and recognizing that we can’t do all of this ourselves, we do need support, and, you know, pulling in those expertise in those areas and finding those gaps that we had and filling them as quickly as we can.

And we I guess like even as a teacher myself, it always feels like when we’re teaching in classrooms or leading in schools that you’ve got to be the the jack of all trades, you have to know everything. And that, you know, that that’s I mean, that’s a whole probably another podcast to talk about the system and how, how we’re all expected to know everything.

But, you know, I think where we can, you know, our job now is solely focused on focusing on learning about as much we can in this space, and then helping schools do that. And just focusing on that piece. And I think that that’s what’s making a difference in the schools that we work with now.

Mike Reading:  43:47
Yeah, yeah. And trying to get ahead of it, I would imagine, because quite often, conversations in education, as you well know, always lag the trends in society, right. So something will happen, and then education will wake up to it, and then they’ll start to talk about and then society has already moved on. So

Trent Ray:  44:05
absolutely. And I mean, you know, it’s exciting. The Metaverse is on, you know, is right knocking on our doorstep here virtual learning spaces, hybrid learning all of these things that you guys that Using Technology Better are talking about a so exciting, but with those new technologies, there’s going to be new risks, challenges and things that we’re not even predicting to occur in our society. And I guess being able to respond to them agile in an agile way, weighing quickly is going to be really important.

Mike Reading:  44:34
Yeah, yeah. I think there’s two analogies. I sometimes use to think about these like one is like, you can be like that Chicken Little, you know, the sky is falling down and you’re running around just like a madman. Yeah. I remember reading a story once about this guy was walking on the beach and there was some, I think it was shellfish or something that had washed up on the shore, and there’s just 1000s on them across the beach.

And this guy was picking them up and throwing them back in the water. Try and save them. And someone came up to me and said, like, why are you? Why? Like, why do you even care? Like, you’re not even going to put a dent into all these these things that are washed up on shore. And he goes, Yeah, but I just made a difference to that one. And I think we can have sometimes like an overwhelmed approach and a school can feel so overwhelmed.

Because there’s so much on this curriculum, there’s so many conflicting priorities that they can, they tend to maybe just a little bit or stick their head in the sand and say, wait till it’s a problem, then I’ll address it. But I think if you can have the approach of like, this will make a difference. Even if it’s been one or two or three students, then it’s worth doing right. It’s worth being proactive in.

Trent Ray:  45:43
I mean, that’s why we all probably got into education in the first place is we like, you know, you’re a teacher in a classroom, we’ve got 25 Kids, you’re making an impact to those young people for that year that you get to work with them in your classroom. You know, we’re not, and it’s a collective effort. And we all work as a system to support our society grow and move forward. And I think that that’s why all of these different organizations exist to support schools as well in that way.

Mike Reading:  46:10
Yeah. Yeah. I know, one of the things you do is you work with parents in part of this, because you said you have a holistic approach, like, we talked about primary school and high school, we’ve talked about a little bit about what teachers in it and their role, like, what are you? What are you doing with parents? And what are you trying to do to bridge the gap between school and community and things like that? Yeah. So

Trent Ray:  46:28
one of the things that, you know, is ultimately just so crucial is the relationship that parents have with their children, so that they feel confident to turn to seek help from them when things are going wrong, right. So, you know, often what we’ve sort of seen in the past, potentially, and it still happens now, and we still offer this is part of our service is that we have students sessions, teacher sessions and parent sessions.

But what we’re, I guess, seeing a lot more success with is when we work with schools, where there’s an opportunity for us to do a family workshop where the students and the parents are together, what we’re doing is providing time and space for those conversations to be had, and started. And that confidence for kids to be able to talk about this in confidence for parents to be supported by us to be able to those conversations.

So where possible, I think it’s so crucial that we have, we’re not having these conversations in isolation, that this is a community conversation. And that when kids are talking to teachers, it’s a mutual positive conversation just as much as it could be negative. And same with parents. And so if we can provide time and space around that, I think that that’s that’s to us, what we think, is is underpins the crucial next step of this phase of learning around there.

So, yes, parents need to know the ins and outs, or the do’s and don’ts or the fundamentals of the online world, but they just want tools to be able to get their kids to be safe. And one of those is conversations. One of those is how to build positive relationships with my gamer, you know, or my my daughter, who’s a social media user, and I’m just sick of her sitting looking at her phone all the time. Well, if we’re not establishing positive relationships, you’re not going to get to that next step, which is having those safety conversations.

Mike Reading:  48:13
Yeah. Yeah. So interesting. I had a parent talking to me, in one of the schools were working in and she came in as like a parent helper. And she said, like, can I ask you a question around gaming? I was like, Sure. I don’t know if I can answer it, but go for it.

She says, I just noticed something. I was getting really frustrated with my son who just wanted to game all the time. But he was in isolation with COVID and just played FIFA soccer relentlessly. And she was really worried about him and quite concerned about screentime, and things like that. And she didn’t understand it. But she said, What was really interesting was that he finished that gaming time, and then came back out and said, Mom, I want to where’s my soccer ball, I want to go play soccer.

And she was like, I never understood that the gaming world could somehow be linked to the real world. And what I’m trying to do as a parent now is understand like, where did the two worlds collide, in essence, that one thing could lead to a passion in the physical space. Sure, there’s stuff around that in terms of creativity and design and that can spark a passion in one area or another. So

Trent Ray:  49:20
I mean, we often talk to parents about if your kid loves Minecraft, and he’s just you feel like all they’re doing is consuming watching other players or you know, watching YouTube videos about Minecraft or playing Minecraft is show them how they could actually be a creator of a game that someone else could play.

And when we think about higher order, thinking, you know, if you’re creating something, you’re learning some pretty good skills that are going to put you in good stead for your future. So you know, it’s not about saying don’t play any more Minecraft or putting a limit on it. What we think is important is helping your child to see other you know, things that could be possible because of it.

Mike Reading:  49:59
Yeah. exactly the same conversation we have, whether it’s iPads in a classroom or whatever, right, like, how much of your time is spent consuming something versus having your students create something. Same conversation a.

Trent Ray:  50:11
Yeah, absolutely. And the other thing with online gaming is that, you know, it opens up a really great space for social skill development, and critical and creative thinking and problem solving skills. So, you know, for some young people having any relationship or friendship or getting the benefits of those, those, those wellbeing benefits of being socially connected offline might be difficult for some kids, but they can make those social connections and get the benefits of that through through gaming, because it’s so social today as well.

So, again, you know, we always have to be having a balanced conversation about this stuff. And I think that’s, that’s really the key to all of what we’re talking about here is balance is important, positive and informing and empowering about the negative side of things. But ultimately, it’s here, and we’ve got to enjoy it. And we’ve got to all learn skills to live with it.

Mike Reading:  51:05
Yeah, that is so true. Because you can go to, here’s all the problems that I’m facing the negatives and the potential issues. Or you can go to the here’s a really positive way of looking at this. And how do we front foot that to make sure that it stays positive, and so on.

So like, eSports is a classic example, right, you can go to the, here’s another example of kids just want to be online during school, and they’re not outside doing real sport in inverted commas. And they just on a computer, or you can say, here’s an opportunity for leadership development, team sports, where the team are relying on them to perform to develop communication skills, resilience, when you learn, you’re failing.

And we can provide an opportunity to build these positive things, or we can see it as another problem to be solved. And it sounds to me like you’re very much going into schools and saying, here’s an opportunity to be taken more so than that problem to be solved. But I’d be correct in thinking that way.

Trent Ray:  52:02
100%, that is our proactive approach. It’s our positive, I guess, you know, element of our program. And you know, we even partner, for example, with Fuse cup here in Australia, do you guys do whatever in New Zealand,

Mike Reading:  52:15
I think the fuse cup guys are looking at that. But there is some talk about some eSports cup starting up over here.

Trent Ray:  52:22
And you know, you go to an Esports event, and it’s this the positive atmosphere, the excitement, that connections that kids are making with each other, you know, when you game and you play eSports, you’re building friendships with people too. But you’re also developing all of those really fundamental skills. But I guess if your child or kids at your school are into EA Sports, that’s awesome.

But we do know there’s an element in life where we just need to make sure that we’ve got that physical activity. So helping a young person be able to self regulate and manage their time and thinking about, Okay, well, if you are a gamer, and you want to, you want to continue down that pathway, and you think you could even be a professional esports player, that’s awesome. But we also know, and this is what the fuse cup talks about with kids is that if you’re not doing having a healthy balance in your life, like eating well, and getting outside and taking regular breaks, your brain actually doesn’t work as well, when you’re playing online games.

So therefore, your performance is actually not going to get any better. So good athletes actually have a great balance and know all of the things that they need to be able to be high performance players. And it’s exactly the same in the gaming world, your brain can’t focus that hard for seven hours non stop, it needs brakes, it needs water, you know?

Mike Reading:  53:41
Yeah, yeah, that’s awesome. Man, that’s, it’s such a good, such a good conversation to have, because like, I started off, here’s the problems. And I think for us to finish with, here’s all the positives and the benefits.

And the reasons why you want to be pushing into this really is a mindset shift, I think we need to have, the way you approach it, the way you approach those conversations, really does make a difference. If schools wanted to contact you, or parents wanted to contact you and just find out a bit more about what you do. What’s the best way for them to be able to do that?

Trent Ray:  54:16
Well, obviously, it’s 2022. So we do have a website you can go to, which is cybersafety We sound not sound feel a little bit like a hypocrite when we say follow us on the socials as well, because we’re constantly talking about how many people you have following you. But you know, we’re obviously on across all of the social platforms as well.

So you can find us there just search up cyber safety project. We work with primary schools, we work with high schools, we also work with the broader community and community groups too. So you know, for example, we work with heads together or gamblers helping the each foundation here, Friend In Me so we also work with lots of different organizations outside of schools because we know these conversations need to be had everywhere.

We have sort of different areas on our websites for schools and families as well. We also have an online hub for families, which is great to promote, if you’re an educator or in a school. There’s lots of free resources on our website, and also some on demand webinars and courses that parents and their kids can do together to build a safe environment at home as well. So I’d encourage people just to check that out and always reach out if you got a question.

Mike Reading:  55:29
Yeah, that’s awesome. I’ve seen some of your resources. And really like the approach that you’ve taken and the work you’ve done, the way you’re engaging with those students and those resources really, really good. So I take my hat off to hear from one teacher that turned business owner to another.

It’s great to see the work that you’re doing in schools and more importantly, the impact that you’re having. I think it’s, it’s just brilliant. And yeah, looking forward to seeing you just continue to go from strength to strength, and just continuing to develop that offering that you’ve got. It’s been really, really good.

Trent Ray:  56:01
Thanks heaps, Mike, really appreciate the compliments today. And yeah, the good chat we’ve had it’s been a I forgot we were actually recording it. So yeah, yeah. Thanks for having us. Appreciate it.

Mike Reading:  56:12
That’s awesome. I love these learning conversations. Because to be honest, I’d get more out of it than I probably should sometimes and selfish asking all my questions, but it’s great. Great to connect. Excellent. We’ll talk to you soon, mate and have a great rest of the week.

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