With a lot of the country still in lockdown, many parents, carers and children are still finding themselves online - and for longer. While the internet has been a lifesaver for keeping us all connected, it’s also increased the risk of online harms occurring.
One year on from its initial launch, the Beacon app – developed by Telethon Kids Institute in partnership with Bankwest - has been providing parents and carers with personalised, evidence-based information about the online world through an easy-to-use app throughout the pandemic.
“The Beacon app gives parents the info they need to confidently help navigate their children’s digital behaviour. It is free to download and there’s lots of online safety advice, but there’s also useful, tangible, actions in the app - like developing a family tech agreement,” says Telethon Kids Institute spokesperson Professor Donna Cross.
The app, developed with content from 15 years of Telethon Kids Institute research, the eSafety Commissioner and other online safety sources, is available for free on the Apple and Google Play store and has had over 16,000 downloads.
“One of the great features is being able to set the app up to include push notification reminders, along with useful tips for parents to help navigate the online world. This ‘nudge’ messaging sends info to parents at particular point or milestones when they are most likely to need it, for example the start of school term, or a significant birthday.”
One parent user of the app says: “I got a notification from Beacon the same day the lockdown was announced, saying how important it was to check in with your children during stressful events, so I thought that was a good idea. There was a video attached, and it helped to give me ideas for how to approach the conversation.
“It turned out that, while my oldest wasn't too concerned, my youngest was ... She was worried that the lockdown might be a long one. It was great to have that talk, to discuss her concerns, and how we might deal with whatever happened, including ways that she could stay in touch with her friends.”
Developed in collaboration with eSafety, the Beacon app offers another channel for important online safety messages to reach parents.
“We know that 95% of parents see online safety as one of the key parenting challenges, but we also know that parents tend to seek out advice only after something goes wrong online.
“For time poor parents, seeking out information can be tough. That’s why the pushing out of tailored messages to parents right on the Beacon app is a fantastic feature.
“A combination of pushing and pulling these important safety messaging is one of the best ways to keep enhancing parents’ digital literacy – one of eSafety’s ultimate goals,” said eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.