The Internet offers kids a wealth benefits, ranging from accessing homework help to engaging in creative content production to connecting with friends and family. Yet there are also many dangers that lurk online. As accessibility to the Internet continues to grow, Australian parents are struggling to shield their kids from exposure to adult content and cyberbullying. As the Australian Institute of Family Studies notes, “online safety is a child protection issue” that requires active monitoring, ongoing conversations and activation of device security features.

With some help from the following software programmes, hardware products and tips that are easy to implement, you can prevent your kids from accessing inappropriate, illegal or harmful online materials.

Smart Security Software Solutions

Just a few simple adjustments to your device’s parental control settings can filter age-inappropriate content, set usage time limits and monitor applications. You should also set up separate user accounts for each child so that you can track online behaviour and customise the level of protection they need. To protect your entire family, all devices should be equipped with up-to-date security solutions. It is also critical that you install the latest updates on all software to ensure attackers can’t exploit vulnerabilities.

Installing one of the following software programmes will enhance these basic safeguards to keep your children connected safely to the online world.

  • Family Zone is an innovative cyber safety platform that is in more than 200,000 homes and 180 of Australia’s schools. The affordable plan offers a comprehensive safety solution that includes blocking adult content, scheduling screen time, disabling in-app purchases and compiling family reports.
  • PCMag Australia gave Qustodio its highest annual ranking for best parental controls software. The utility is equipped with nearly all the features you need to keep your kids connected safely to the Internet.
  • Norton, one of the most trusted names in cybersecurity, offers a Family Premier version of its software that encourages parent-child engagement. Unique features of this tool are the ability to monitor video watched on Hulu and YouTube as well as alerts when children try to share sensitive personal information.

Buying Safe Devices for Kids

Take Internet safety in your home one step further by adding robust hardware that fortifies your devices. There are also a number of kid-friendly devices on the market aimed at restricting access to content.

  • Clean Router is another highly recommended product by PCMag Australia. This router-based solution offers a higher level of protection than software utilities by monitoring every device on your network, supporting time limits for specific devices and enforcing safe searches.
  • The fully-functioning Amazon’s Fire Kids Tablet is equipped with powerful features to restrict access to content for children ages 3-12. The nearly indestructible tablet comes with a kids-proof protective case and two-year guaranteed warranty.
  • When it is time to finally cave into getting your child a mobile phone, choose a durable one that has a secure operating system and parental controls on board. PCMag offers a breakdown of smart choices for mobile phones by age.

Nurturing Responsible Digital Citizens

Parents must find the balance between giving children the freedom to learn digital literacy skills and keeping them physically and emotionally safe during this fragile stage of development. These resources can help tweens and teens learn how to make smart decisions and to become responsible digital citizens by engaging in safe online activities.

  • Utilising an interactive animated format, CyberSmart Detective challenges children ages 8-10 to explore issues of stranger danger, identifying risky online behaviours and nurturing respectful relationships.
  • The Carnegie Cyber Academy incentivises cyber safety with fun-filled training missions that teach “cadets” about online security.
  • The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has developed age-specific programmes for keeping safe online. The animated NetSmartzKids (ages 5-10) introduces the basics of cyber safety, NSTeens (ages 8-12) engages hard-to-reach tweens while Real-Life Stories (ages 11-17) is loaded with more serious content about risky online behaviours.

Talking to Your Kids Matters

Startling findings from a survey conducted by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) highlight the significance of simply talking to your child about online safety. A full 60 percent of kids said they modified their behaviour after their parents spoke to them about the dangers that lurk on the Internet. Yet, almost a third of parents reported not knowing how to guide their children through uncomfortable online situations. Instead, they felt more comfortable sending their child to a sibling or another adult, such as a teacher, for advice.

Tap these three resources to help you feel more confident about engaging with your child in conversations about online safety:

  • offers a tutorial on Internet Safety for Kids that is truly available at no cost. You’ll learn important tips on how to teach kids about Internet safety, gain a better understanding of cyberbullying and learn how you can keep your kids safe from online predators.
  • Wired Safety guides you through protecting your kids online by helping you understand what technology is appropriate for children by age and the associated risks.
  • Stampy and PewDiePie may sound like names for cartoon characters, but they are actually international Internet stars with widespread followings on YouTube. Common Sense Media has developed a guide for helping parents understand how to enjoy YouTube with their kids and how to protect them from viewing dangerous content.

Keeping your children connected safely online requires a multistep approach. If you need help, then Suncoast Computers can guide you through the options for securing your home from unscrupulous websites. If you suspect that your child has been exposed to illegal content or is a victim of cyberbullying, then you can file an anonymous complaint with the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner, an independent statutory office established to promote and enhance online safety for Australian children.