FacebookThe federal government says education, rather than legislation, is the best way to protect children using Facebook and other social media.

But the government has agreed to look at proposals being prepared by South Australia, including tighter age limits on use of the social media and giving parents more rights to access their children’s Facebook accounts.

The SA government will prepare a discussion paper on the issue after raising its concerns at a meeting of state and federal attorneys-general in Adelaide on Friday.

Federal Justice Minister Brendan O’Connor said the government was loath to legislate where legislation was not going to work.

‘I think education is the key,’ he said.

‘We need to make sure young people are informed about the potential risks.

‘The cyber world is a magnificent place, it’s a fantastic educational tool, it’s a fantastic place for people to engage socially.

‘But the internet is not a benign playground. There are potential threats to young people in particular.’

South Australian Attorney-General John Rau said Australia was going through a revolution in the way people consumed and generated information.

‘That is a technologically driven change that is way ahead of the legal system and probably the thinking of most governments around the world and certainly in this country,’ he said.

‘We are grappling with changes that are moving more quickly than most people would have thought possible only a few years ago.’

SA’s proposals are likely to include a provision to raise the age for Facebook users and to also require the site to seek proof of age.

They will also consider allowing greater parental access.

Facebook currently requires users to be aged at least 13, but there is no requirement to provide proof of age.

A SA mother found recently that her teenage daughter had uploaded inappropriate pictures of herself to her Facebook page but the mother was prevented by Facebook from removing them.

Mr Rau said that case highlighted the concerns of many parents, while Mr O’Connor said more needed to be done to educate and inform young people of the dangers associated with posting material online.

‘People need to think carefully about what they upload, what they put onto their Facebook and social websites,’ he said.

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