Cyber bullying, radicalisation, internet safety: New app helps migrant parents spot dangers children face online

The Australian Multicultural Foundation’s Executive Director, Hass Dellal, says the app will cover topical issues such as information about social media, practical tips on healthy internet use and where to get more information.

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“The focus for us was to see if we could develop something that would help families and parents understand what their children are accessing online, and what are some of the potential dangers and how to deal with these challenges at home.” he says.

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“But more importantly, also to make it available and accessible. So hence the 17 different languages, to make it accessible and make it user-friendly, a free web app designed to teach parents on how to know what their children are doing online and on social media.”

“The idea and the proposal for the app was born out of a pilot program that we ran over the past year. Online safety training programs were discussed, and the use of the internet and social media at home was an issue that was often and commonly raised in families.”

The app looks at the internet itself, social media, some of the websites and apps that young people use, such as WhatsApp, Twitter and Telegram.

‘CyberParent’ has been produced in 17 different languages.Australian Multicultural Foundation

Hass Dellal says the focus was to see if they could develop something that would help families and parents understand what their children are accessing online, as well as understanding what some of the potential dangers were and how to deal with those challenges at home.

“We felt that parents are obviously anxious about the risks the internet poses and want to protect their children from the dangerous material, unwanted contact, online grooming, cyber bullying and radicalisation, ” Mr Dellal told SBS World News.

“And we also felt that if you wanted to deal with these issues, or these behavioural issues, or problems that may arise from the use of the internet – don’t get me wrong – it’s obviously a wonderful tool and there’s so much benefit in it but also we undoubtedly it’s necessary to be aware of some of the risks and dangers of the internet as well.”

He says the app aims to develop protocols and communication techniques, and skills for parents, as well as practical tips – such as acronyms their children use.

“There’s about a set of 80 different acronyms they use online. They’ve actually made that available for parents, you know, things like ‘POS’ meaning parent over shoulder, or ‘PIR’ parent in room. So the families are really excited about that one. That is probably the most popular section of the app, is to get hold of those acronymns!”

Mr Dellal talks about a whole range of social issues for new families, particularly from multicultural backgrounds.

Arabic, right, is one of the 17 languages that parents can access new app CyberParent.Australian Multicultural Foundation

“Particularly young people where their resilience, people exploit their resilience and vulnerabilities based on things like when they feel they’ve been discriminated, isolated, alienated or cyber bullied simply because of who they are, or their ethnicity, religion or their culture.

“Sometimes this can actually create the problem and it’s very important for families to know that this may be happening and there could be some behavioural changes in their children and they need to understand those early warning signs so that they can actually develop some prevention strategies.”

* CyberParent is available in a total of 17 different languages, including: English, Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Dinka, Farsi, German, Greek, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Pashto, Spanish, Somali, Turkish, Urdu (from September 2017) and Vietnamese.

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