A teen tech entrepreneur set to attend the Queensland Premier’s roundtable on cyberbullying has warned stripping young people of their devices will not solve online bullying.
Taj Pabari is among 40 experts and stakeholders invited to attend a cyberbullying roundtable, hosted by the Premier in Brisbane on Monday.
Mr Pabari founded his company FiftySix Creations in 2014 in order to try and teach students around the world the business and entrepreneurial skills they need to excel in the future.
In 2017 he was named the Queensland Young Australian of the Year in recognition of his work.
He considers himself to be among the “social media generation”, having graduated from high school in 2016, but he said he received little education about cyberbullying at the time platforms such as Facebook were becoming popular.
He will tell the roundtable that cyberbullying education should begin in prep.
“As soon as they’ve touched their first computer, which for many kids is under the age of five, let’s start it then,” Mr Pabari said.
“I can’t see why we shouldn’t start teaching them about the importance of being safe online, saying nice things online, being respectful online, taking it all the way up to high school but starting very young”.
The Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, wants to take a national plan to tackle bullying to the next COAG meeting in February.
The roundtable is one step in that process, while State Cabinet will today also consider an increase in funding for support services for young people.
Banning social media not the answer: Pabari
In the wake of the tragic death of 14-year-old Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett, some experts called for social media bans.
But Mr Pabari said that was not the answer.
“Let’s put the education in there,” he said. “Let’s inform our young people.”
“It’s OK for them to be on social media. It’s OK for them to talk to their friends online.”
“It’s OK to have a spirited debate online, but let’s do it safely.
“Let’s do it in a controlled, in a very diplomatic fashion.”
He said making young people aware that anything they said online “stays with them forever” would be a powerful disincentive for would-be perpetrators of cyberbullying.
“It could have huge repercussions when you grow older, when you go for that first job,” he said.
“Most employers are Googling their name, and if they see words that should not have been said online they’ve probably got a lower chance of getting that job.
“Showing young people the fact that your digital footprint is huge. This thing stays with you forever, I think is super important.”