As we become an increasingly saturated ICT society, our children have more internet access than ever. On the positive side this can open up an ever amazing world of information and opportunity. On the downside, it can open up a dark world of risk, adult content, inappropriate role models, grooming, and distraction.
Children take their behavioural cues from the world around them. Screen time – the time spent watching television, playing computer games, and being on the internet, is a big influence on our children’s understanding of right and wrong, and the way in which they develop socially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
The Office of the esafety Commissioner has an abundance of resources and wise advice for parents, as they navigate this challenging area of parenting.
The main types of complaints cited recently are: 68% name calling, 34% private pictures, 26% fake and hater pages. This is an ugly world for our young children to be experimenting and engaging with.
Wise parents set a daily time limit and monitor screen habits. Parents of children with mobile phones, and other devices are advised to check the chat and messenger activity daily. This is a place where children can be cyberbullied and where inappropriate language and adult concepts can be exposed.
Families are encouraged to choose a list of acceptable programs, games and websites together. For example, you could introduce an ‘hour of power’ on a weekend day, during which the children are free to choose from your preapproved games, programs and websites. Being up-front about the time frame means fewer arguments when it is time to switch off and go outside.
Teaching and modelling appropriate online behaviour is critical. It is extremely important to talk about what is and isn’t acceptable online conduct with your child, and show them that they can come to you with any questions or problems.
No device such as a smart phone, ipad or tablet, is to come to School that is connectable to the internet and does not have a safety filter on it. We have significant filters on devices that are connected to the King’s internet, so iPads and laptops owned by the School are safety filtered. Information on Family Zone, the internet filter that we promote, is found here on KingsNet.
Six helpful tips provide guidance to assist in teaching children to become cybersmart:
1. No devices in bedrooms
2. No devices at the dinner table
3. Install Family Zone or a similar internet safety filter
4. Monitor children’s device usage daily
5. Adhere to age recommendations for games and apps
6. Develop a family usage agreement and don’t be worn down by children’s demands to exceed agreed daily screen time usage.
Mrs Belinda Baxter, Deputy Head – Students and Community, The King’s School, Preparatory School