CyberSafeIreland reveal their top 3 healthy tech habits that you can implement in your home.
Healthy use of technology can seem like a difficult topic to begin with your child, especially when we are often bombarded with scaremongering in the media. Technology is neutral: it is how we use it that makes the difference to its effect on our lives. However by agreeing some rules, being a good role model, co-using it as a family and keeping an open dialogue you can help encourage your child to see it as a normal part of life to talk to you about what they are doing online. Below are some healthy tech habits that may help.
Agree on rules for the whole family.
These rules should apply to adults and children!
Rules should include things like protecting personal information, appropriate posting and sharing (in and out of the home), what is ok to share, who and what it is ok to like, follow, stream and play. Understand privacy settings for social media and gaming accounts. Talk about the unrealistic expectations that are presented to us online, and think about quality of screen time more than quantity.
Adults must follow the rules too - you can't sit at the dinner table scrolling and then expect your child to obey the rules without kicking up a fuss! Decide where and when devices are used or charged. Try normalising no devices before bed or at the dinner table; model the behaviours and don’t end up like Will Ferrell!
Why not create a “family agreement” to formalise what you have agreed?
Co-use of technology.
There is a lot to be said for co-using technology with your children, especially as this gives you the opportunity to influence how they engage with technology at an age when they still want to listen to you! Check out apps and games that can bring out their creative side, or enhance skills such as problem-solving, or collaborating or communicating with others. Here are some suggestions.
Do you ask your child how school was, how their football match or play date was? 12% of 8-13 year olds spend a full 61 days of their life online every year, so don’t miss out on another important area of their life and ask them what they are up to online too. Here are some conversation starters if you don't know where to begin:
1. Talk about what they like doing online, e.g. what apps they use, what games they play or which YouTubers they follow.
2. Ask what, if anything they see or experience online that makes them worried or upset.
3. Ask them for their top tips for staying safe and having fun online. This can help gauge their knowledge but also open the door to discussing these ideas further.
4. Go through the privacy settings for their apps and games. For every social media or messaging app or game that they use, get them to show you the privacy settings (e.g. the options that set out who can see their photos, add them as friends, or follow their games) and how they would report or block someone or something that makes them uncomfortable or upset.
5. Talk about what information is OK to share. Define personal information e.g. full name, email, address, passwords, siblings, parental credit card details etc. Discuss what they might consider before sharing photos or videos, and what kind they like to share most.
6. Ask them for help. Ask your child to help you do something online, e.g. change the privacy settings on your social media account, search for information on something or download an app.
Don’t forget to start the conversations early. Talk openly with your child about using smart devices, social media profiles, personal data and unrealistic expectations. It is important to be interested and supportive and set rules for the whole family, including the grown-ups! If they see you following the same rules in terms of healthy tech use, such as not using devices at the dinner table or bringing them to bed, then they are much more likely to grow up following your example. And remember to check the parental controls, privacy and safety settings on devices, apps and games!
If you want to check out any of the apps, games and sites your children are using we recommend Common Sense Media or PEGI for sensible advice and recommendations, and for more information on how to start those conversations, checkout out the help page on our website here.
Will you be trying out any of these healthy tech habits?
This content has been checked and certified by Cyber Safe Ireland whose mission is to empower children, parents and teachers to navigate the online world in a stronger, smarter and safer way.