Many families will be encouraging their children to make good use of technology whilst in lockdown. With no opportunities to see their classmates “in real life” social interaction opportunities are few and far between for our children. Technology can help us all stay in touch, but parents and carers will want to make sure that their children use the technology as safely as possible.
The last home learning ICT task was (hopefully) an engaging eSafety task to try to make children think about the time they are spending online and to encourage them to use their technology wisely and safely. There is an overwhelming amount of material being published to help support parents and carers at the moment, I have tried to summarise much of it in an accessible way below.
Almost all devices allow parental controls to be set. These can be adjusted depending on the ages of the children. They can:-
- Stop children putting new apps on a device until the parents approve them
- Reduce the chance of a child accidentally spending money on virtual goods
- Limit the time that children use a device without having a break
A good starting point is the internet matters website https://www.internetmatters.org/ Go to the SETTING CONTROLS section at the top!
Probably the best thing you can do to help your son or daughter is to talk to them regularly about how they use technology, which apps and sites they use and who their online friends are. Some children struggle with online relationships perhaps either sending or receiving hurtful messages. Parents and carers will be able to help guide youngsters through this difficult area.
If children receive unpleasant messages these can usually be reported within the messaging service. Each app or site will have a different way of doing this. The best course of action for is to block the sender and discuss it with parents straight away.
Apps and Sites
The list of apps and websites children are using grows by the minute so printed advice is likely to be out of date. In the UK the NSPCC have a site called Net-Aware https://www.net-aware.org.uk/ which explains many current apps , the risks and the benefits of their use. More apps are listed on the American site Common Sense Media https://www.commonsensemedia.org/
I will be setting some more eSafety tasks and games whilst we are on lockdown, but if your child does run into difficulties, they can call Childline on 0800 1111 for advice on anything that is worrying them. The Police can be contacted by phone or from the Thinkuknow website. https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/
This concise advice for parents from the Children’s Commissioner summarises most of the issues affecting our children at the moment and offers succinct advice on what you can do as a parent. cco-parents-digital-safety-wellbeing-kit
Finally, do please take the opportunities presented by the nice weather we are currently experiencing to get your children away from electronic devices and outside for some fresh air and exercise. Balancing screen time with other activities, especially ones where they have to interact with others has never been so important.