It is easy to see the advantages of technology, but it is equally easy to see the dangers. Whether they know it or not, our children need us to help guide them even though they are the digital natives not us. It can feel impossible, like we are foreigners trying to teach natives their own language. However, there are many resources to help us. The most important thing is that we don’t feel so overwhelmed that we give up completely.
My approach has been to look at it in terms of triple layer protection.
Protection layer 1
- This is to be sure that appropriate filters are in place through your internet provider. Most internet providers will have parental controls.
Protection layer 2
- This protection is put in place on each individual device e.g. phones, tablets, xbox etc.
- There are extra filters you can buy to have greater control and visibility over each device.
Protection layer 3
- This is the only sure protection and the hardest one of all to help our children with. For this reason we expect our children to be at a certain level of maturity before they are given a personal device. This protection comes down to the child’s own behaviour and choices. There seem to be 3 ways that parents deal with this. 1) Leave the child to it. 2) Create a contract for the child. 3) Coach the child. Perhaps the answer is a mix of all three.
Our family has tried many different ways to handle technology and we continue to do so. It is a topic frequently discussed. I believe there are some areas where family rules can help to protect. However, there are others where the only protection left is with the child. In these cases we need to talk regularly and openly.
Our family rules come under 5 categories.
- Time Management and addiction prevention
- No technology allowed in bedrooms.
- No phones for one day per week – Sundays.
- Responsibilities to be completed before tech time.
- Equal amount of exercise and technology use.
- Family Privacy and Unity
- Ask permission before posting when it involves family.
- Creation vs Consumption
- Choose your online reputation and let it be known.
- Use technology to spread happiness and uplifting messages.
- Use technology to help improve yourself, family etc. (podcasts, YouTube etc),
- Relationships – Be where you’re at.
- No technology allowed at dinner time.
- When someone is speaking to you, place the device face down and make eye contact.
- Ask permission before posting when it involves others.
- If you wouldn’t do it in person, don’t do online.
- Social media accounts to be created with parental permission.
- Parents to have all passwords.
- Parents can check personal devices at any time.
- Share anything inappropriate or threatening with parents.
- No technology allowed in bathrooms or bedrooms, or other private spaces.
- Usernames should not be your own name.
- Make sure passwords are strong. Sentences are good.
- Only allow people to follow you/ game with you, that you know.
- Like and follow NSPCC and other online safety groups on social media accounts as it puts off predators.
An important topic that I think should be discussed with children is, what signs do they see that help them recognize they are falling into addiction?
https://www.digitalcompass.org/ – This is a game aimed at 11 year olds to help them be internet safe.
Protect yourself by wise posting.