As many Australian families are plunged once agin into lockdown and homeschooling, it’s highly possible that our children are spending more time than usual on smart phones, tablets, laptops and gaming consoles.

As many parents know, technology can be a great way of keeping kids entertained as we juggle our day-to-day lives, as well as a fabulous educational tool and an essential way to stay connected to our family and friends.

Young girl using laptop

The more time our children spend online and on devices, the more opportunities there are for cybercriminals.

While it is easy to rattle off all of the dangers of being online, and share a list of ‘offline’ activities to do with the family, the reality is that technology plays a big role in our everyday lives and that is not going to change anytime soon.

Creator and Founder of bhapi, Mick Esber shares his top five tips to keep families cyber-safe:

  1. Create a family technology plan and stick to it. Limit social media and app usage to one hour per day.
  2. Ensure all parental controls are in place and updated, so you can see the content your children are viewing at all times.
  3. Update all passwords to avoid being hacked, making sure you don’t use generic passwords.
  4. Talk to your children about what they are viewing and be involved to ensure they aren’t developing unrealistic expectations of life and reality.
  5. Educate yourself on what toxic content is and how it can impact your children now and later in life.

bhapi, the premier safe social media platform is a new and innovative app created by tech guru Mick Esber rates, classifies, and blocks negative, fake, biased, hate, violent and explicit content using best-in-class technology. To find out more about bhapi and to check out their Kickstarter campaign, click here.

Cyber security expert, Alex Merton-McCann says the best way for parents to keep their children safe online is to know exactly what sites they are visiting and to educate them on cyber-safety.

Understand your child’s digital world

Commit to playing the new game your child is obsessed with and joining every social media platform they are on – yes, even TikTok! Think of how much easier it will be to spot when your child is in potential danger if you know which of their personal details are public versus private? Many platforms have their own language and culture and if you have experienced this first-hand, it will give you a greater understanding of your child’s digital life. Plus, it is super important that you familiarise yourself with how to manage privacy settings and report a problem on these apps.

Start the cyber-safety conversation early and often

No matter their age, as soon as your child starts using a device and connecting online, you should be weaving the cyber-safety conversation into the usual family dialogue. Come up with simple, age-appropriate rules as a family from the get-go, and bring up a new scam or cyberbullying trend you’ve seen on the news at the dinner table. The more ‘normal’ these conversations are in your household, the more likely your kids will be to come to you with any questions or problems they have later down the track.

Teach your children to always think twice online

Opening apps, clicking on links or replying to messages are almost reflexive behaviours for the digital generation who have been using connected devices from an early age. It’s now more important than ever to teach our children to think twice before they click any link shared in an email, over social media or even in popular gaming chats and cheat videos, as many can lead to fake shopping websites or malicious apps that steal personal information.

As a mum of four, I know how much easier family life can be with a little help from technology. By getting involved, having an open discussion and teaching your children how to take the right precautions, you can make sure the kids can stay connected online without sacrificing their privacy or security.