Sunday, 6 March 2016

Internet safety

This is the last post on a series of three posts concerning the use of technology by children.

Key principles for all age groups concerning internet safety:

  • Keep lines of communications open.
  • Create a list of internet rules with your kids (See Rules 'N Tools Youth Pledge)
  • Set parental control at the age appropriate levels and use filtering and monitoring tools as a complement -not a replacement- for parental supervision.
  • Supervise all internet-enabled devices and keep computers in a  public area of the home.
  • Encourage your kids to come to you if they encounter anything online that makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened (Stay calm and don't blame your child; otherwise, they won't turn to you int he future for help when they need it).
  • Teach them not to interact with people they don't know offline, because an online predator or cyberbully can disguise him/herself.
  • Check the history file on your computer to see which sites your child has accessed.
  • Teach your child the golden rule: do unto others as they would have done unto themselves. Research shows that children who are victimised online have often behaved aggressively online.
  • Keep doing research, e.g. google acronyms so that you understand the language children are using online.

Friday, 4 March 2016

TV watching suggestions

After a meeting with the ISKR counsellor, Suzy Cheal, we received the following suggestions around TV watching:

  • Keep TVs out of the bedroom. Children are more likely to watch a lot more TV (and at times when you can't control it) when the TV is in their rooms. Plus, it's harder for you to monitor what they're watching when they're behind closed doors.
  • Turn off the TV during meals. Make mealtime a family time.
  • Watch what your kids watch. Talk about what they're seeing. Ask provocative questions such as, "What do you think of that character driving all that alcohol?" State your values clearly. "I don't like it when people swear. I don't want you to swear either."
  • If you have a TV set that you bought after January 200, then the TV most likely has V-chip technology. This allows you to block programs that you don't want your child to watch. To setup the V-chip, check your TV's instruction manual or visit the on-screen menu options on your TV. The V-chip is controlled through your TV set's remote.
  • If you have cable with hundred's of channels and many setup options, you probably have digital cable. Digital set-top boxes provide advanced parental control capabilities. The features vary by manufacturer and model, but you can typically find specific instructions on how to set up parental control through on-screen manes controlled by your remote control.
  • Be aware that other families may not have controls on their TVs, so children often will spend time in homes that do not have parental controls.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Cyber safety and how to help children use technology

I have been worried about technology for a while. What to do, when, how, are there general good practices in this area?

We received lots of practical advice from the counsellor at ISKR, Suzy Cheal. She explained that, in her experience the biggest issue with technology is when it becomes an alternative to interaction between parents and children. Or when boundaries aren't set early enough, e.g. children are allowed to play video games that are not appropriate for their age, or parents let children watch tv until late at night because it is easier than insisting that children go to bed.

General rules she proposed:

  • Technology should serve the family and bring you closer; it should not make your family its servant and keep you apart.
  • Parents are their children's first and best teachers. Model appropriate technology and media behaviour for your kids.
  • Using cell phones, computers, televisions and other electronic devices is a privilege for kids, not a right.
  • Set a family media policy. Decide who can use what forms of technology, what constitutes appropriate content for each one, when and where it is acceptable to use each one, and how you will monitor usage. Make sure everyone in the family knows the policy.
  • Establish appropriate consequences, both positive and negative, for technology and media usage. Communicate those consequences clearly and often to your kids.
  • Establish "technology-free" zones and times in your home when you all "unplug" and concentrate on talking to each other and enjoying each other's company.
  • Help your children achieve balance in their lives by encouraging them to stay physically active, enjoy reading, and relax and have fun without electronics.
  • Take advantage of resources that "watch" media content, and use them to help you decide when you should say "Yes" or say "No" to your children's media/technology use.
  • Talk with other parents. Let them know what your family technology and media policy is and ask how they handle those issues in their homes. Support each other in helping kids use technology and media safely and appropriately.

Advice for children up to 5 years old:


  • The American Association of Paediatricians recommends no screen time for children under 2 on the basis that they have seen no studies that prove conclusively that it aids development.
  • Limit screen time to 2 hours a day or less for children over the age of 2. Practice "appointment" television. Use your TV guide, and decide in advance what's good to watch. 

Cell phones

  • Pay attention to the messages you model - stay off the cell phone and other electronic devices when you're driving or engaged in other activities that deserve your full attention.
Advice for 6-9 years old

Online safety
Content blockers and filters are great tools to use with younger kids. They allow you more control over where they go and what they do online. A content blocker sites with explicit material or limits a child's search to a predetermined set of sites. A content filter scans sites and images and blocks those that contain certain words, key phrases or content.

Look at games or sites with children
  • If your children has mobile internet access, it will  be more difficult to monitor and control his or her internet use.
  • Nothing can replace involvement and supervision by adults. Keep monitoring how your kids use the internet on a regular basis.
Next post on TV watching and internet safety!


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