February 26, 2021 – 12:30pm to 2:00pm

Online - via Zoom

To mark Safer Internet Day on the 9th February 2021, this OPEN Forum brought together speakers who are working on issues related to children and their interactions with the digital world.

The OPEN Forum featured Prof. Amanda Third from Western Sydney University and Bec Nguyen from Telethon Kids Institute, Perth. They emphasised the following:

  • There is a need to move beyond the protectionist approach to children’s safety in the digital world and focus on a strengths-based approach. Parents, carers, educators, researchers and policy makers also need to involve children in the decisions that are being made for them.
  • Parents, carers and educators can use Beacon, an evidence-based app which is a tool to provide accurate and latest information to support children in their online interactions

Presentation title: Children’s rights and wellbeing in the digital world

Speaker: Prof Amanda Third

Professorial Research Fellow in Digital Social and Cultural Research in the Institute for Culture and Society and Co-Director of the Young and Resilient Research at Western Sydney University.


Prof Amanda Third is an international expert in child-centred, participatory research and investigates children’s technology practices using rights-based approaches. She spoke about children’s digital practices, the risks and opportunities of being online and increased incidence of online usage during the pandemic.

Key messages

  • Children are not just recipients of information, but also active content creators in the digital world. we need to consider ways to balance risks, harm and benefits to build their digital resilience.
  • This can be achieved through enabling systems which combine provision, participation, and protection, the three fundamental child rights.
  • It means children are provided accurate and age-appropriate information about best practices for online interactions.
  • They have the right to participate in the decisions being made for them, both online and offline.
  • They have the right to be protected from harm and exploitation, both online and offline.
  • Researchers, practitioners, educators, policy makers and organisations must use creative engagement strategies to work with children. The emphasis should be on collaboration and not tokenism.
  • Parents and carers must have access to latest information and evidence-based strategies to support children in their digital interactions.

For more information on the rights-based approach to digital participation, download the presentation slides here or watch the video here.


Presentation title: Beacon – The switched-on app for families online

Speaker: Bec Nguyen

Digital Projects Manager in the Health Promotion and Education Research team at Telethon Kids Institute, Perth, WA


Bec Nguyen talked about Beacon, an evidence-based app for parents and carers to support their children navigate the ever-changing online world. The app has been designed by the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth which has done over 30 projects investigating young people’s online behaviours, cyberbullying and associated mental health harms among young people, and promotion of healthy technology use among others. The app was designed in partnership with Bankwest and has been endorsed by the eSafety Commissioner.

Key messages

  • The app takes a primary prevention approach and provides parents/carers/educators reliable and trustworthy information about digital opportunities, risks and threats.
  • It personalises content to suit family needs and includes tailor-made online agreements with children to encourage healthy and responsible digital behaviours.
  • It includes information on suitable apps and devices; strategies for digital parenting around screen time, expectations, boundaries and managing online relationships; health and wellbeing and using learning and education opportunities.
  • The app also includes information on privacy and security issues.
  • It promotes online safety by providing pathways to report misconduct or online abuse to the eSafety Commissioner.

For more information on the app and its features, download the presentation slides here or watch the video here.


Additional Resources

  • Keeping Children Safe Online – our recent literature review which highlights best available research on key online trends, emerging issues and their implications for children and young people. This paper provides a background for researchers, practitioners, and policy makers conducting research, or developing programs, online courses and policies that take a systems approach to the issue.
  • Research ethics and digital technology to work with children – this journal article talks about the opportunities and challenges of using technology to conduct ethical research with children.
  • Safety by Design – this resource is provided by the eSafety Commissioner to support user safety and rights at the centre of all programs designed to use technology.
  • Blogs on parenting for the digital age:
  • Information about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child:

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