Welcome to Lockdown! It is going to be a long 42 days and I’m sure many of us are feeling a strong sense of deja vu. It can be overwhelming just thinking about the next 6 weeks, especially with the long school holidays. We will continue to post some different activities on the ‘Parents Only’ Facebook page throughout the holidays: ideas for keeping your children entertained, their brains stimulated and your sanity (vaguely) in tact! If you would like to join the group, please search for KCIS Parents on Facebook and request to join. As we put photos on there it is a closed group limited to parents only.
Lockdown inevitably increases the amount of screen time for children. For many of us parents it is a coping mechanism and sometimes the only option to allow us to work, get things done around the house or have some valuable and needed me time. This may be the perfect opportunity to check in with your children about what they are watching online, what games they are playing and who they are chatting to. Many apps have an age limit on them for a reason; not all apps that are accessible to our children are appropriate for our children. Years ago, I discovered an excellent website called “Common Sense Media“. It provides guidance on what age different books, movies and apps are suitable for. The organisation rates them, along with other parents and children. It also tells you why items are rated that way, providing a rating for bad language, sex, violence, positive role models, drinking, drugs and smoking. Older children can also use the website to look up apps or movies they are begging you for and make a persuasive argument to you as to why they should be allowed it!
Keyboard Warriors: If your children are chatting to friends online, remind them to only say things they would be willing to say to someone’s face.
Phones: Many parents are against their primary age children having a phone. Children have found their way around this and are chatting and messaging on apps such as Skype and Zoom through their laptops. Think about your reasoning and values behind your child not having a phone, and whether this has been compromised through the laptop/tablet.
Search History: Discuss with your child how they would feel if you looked at their search or chat history together. Also if they use Youtube, have a look at the suggestions that Youtube is giving them. This is tailored to their viewing history and will give you an indication of what they are watching.
Social Media Technologies: Some social networks use technologies that may not be right for some ages or engage with communities that are made up of people much older than your child. Internet Matters have an informative section on the risks or underage social networking.
Location of Computer Use: Consider where your child accesses the computer from. Find a public room in the house where people will be walking past them and/or ensure doors stay open. This is not only about what your children are choosing or intending to do but also inappropriate content coming up when for example, sites automatically load the next video. If they are watching in a public space it is easier to keep an eye on inappropriate content.
Digital Footprint: Talk to them about what they do online, what they watch/play, who they chat to; what their worries are about being online. Remind them that they have a digital footprint and nothing can be deleted forever from online. Encourage them to think about how that can affect them in years to come.
Siblings: Younger siblings often get exposed to inappropriate content at a younger age due to the influence of older siblings. Talk to your older siblings about their responsibility towards keeping their younger siblings safe.
Parent Controls: It is now possible to put parental controls on nearly all devices. This can be to limit screen time or apps or simply to receive notifications about certain activity. The National Online Safety website has guides for adding parental controls to different devices.
I have attached more visuals in a folder on the KCIS Parents Facebook page which I hope you will find useful.
Stay well and stay safe.