Our children are growing up in a world that is dominated and supercharged by technology.
Our children are growing up in a world that is dominated and supercharged by technology. When they start school there is a strong chance that the “blackboard” will now be an interactive touch screen instead. Technology and ICT are a huge part of where the future is going. For that reason, it is important that it is threaded through their education at school.
Internet use is part of the package when it comes to technology. It can be an excellent resource for research and communication when our children are of an appropriate age.
A child’s first experience of the internet may be via a teacher who consults a particular website or resource during a learning experience. For other children, it may be through an app like YouTube Kids.
The important thing is to ensure that our children understand that while the internet is an excellent resource it also poses dangers and risks.
So as parents and guardians how do we teach our children about these dangers and risks while also encouraging responsible use of a resource that is so prominent in everyday modern life?
1. If you allow your child to use an app like YouTube (many parents allow it on long car journeys or in waiting rooms etc) ensure that what they are watching is appropriate. For younger children, YouTube Kids is a more appropriate platform as all videos are deemed to be kid friendly in nature. Consult parental controls and apply a password where possible.
2. Try to encourage that video game use occurs somewhere close to you in the home. Many games have interactive elements which involve communicating with other players. It is important to be able to monitor what is being said and who is saying it as it can be very dangerous.
3. Regularly talk about the issue of bullying and how prominent it is online. While social media apps can be great they also pose a huge risk as people will say things online that they would never say to a person’s face. Try to promote positive use of these apps (when the child is of a suitable age) and reiterate an open door policy if the child is ever on the receiving end of anything of a bullying nature while they are online.
4. Explain the vastness of the internet and the fact that the people who use it are not always decent. Explain the importance of not talking to strangers, accepting follow requests from unknown people and talking privately to people. While you don’t want to scare your child it is important that they know about predators and the dos and don'ts that will help protect them from these people.
5. Screen use should have a limit regardless of age. While setting these parameters it is a good idea to explain to your children the reasons behind it. Too much screen use affects their mood, their quality of sleep, their performance at school, their participation in sports//activities and all of the friendships and relationships in their lives. If a child understands that there is a “why” they might just accept it more willingly.
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.