Is Santa bringing Tech to your house this Christmas?
From Xbox, iPhone and every device in between,
tech will be on most Santa lists this year.
One thing many of these devices have in common
is that they can connect to the Internet, so you can view and download content
and access social media apps and platforms.
So whether the tech horse has bolted or not in
your home, it’s always a good idea to do a little planning around devices. Safeguarding
planning can go a long way towards helping support young people’s protection
and mental health, now and in the future.
If you’re reading this blog or watching our video you’ll know what we do – Keep parents, teachers and young people up to date on Online Safety and Tech Education – through workshops, talks, training and useful information in our videos and blogs. Our aim is help keep you updated, empowered and informed. As Parents ourselves we understand the challenges and difficulties when it comes to managing technology inside and outside the home.
Start the right way
Nearly a third of parents allow their children
to use the internet without supervision or restrictions. And only 20% of
parents talk regularly to their children about the dangers.
Having an understanding of parental controls
and safety settings within devices, apps and games can help parents set these
up correctly the first time around. Many
children and teenagers use devices of their own and others within the home
which don’t have any parental controls
A good place to start is to have a think about
the parental control settings you’d like to put in place on the particular
device and then get them set up before Christmas Day. Highly recommended Dads and Mums, unless
you’d like to spend Christmas Day setting up gaming consoles, phones, ipads
etc. I prefer TV and a sleep after
Christmas dinner J.
Either way once the device is activated and set up – this is the time to
agree rules/boundaries/contracts with your child or teenager. Be honest, tell them you need to know the password
at all times or you’ll remove the phone/device. And that you can spot check at
any time. Then just like watching a film
together, browse the internet together, you’ll get to know more about their
interests and having fun this way may take the sting out of the conditions. Try
to influence their friends parents positively too. And find out what rules they
have in place. Most parents strive to
ensure their children are always safe.
If a friends house has no rules, unfortunately that’s an unsafe environment
for young kids. Simple as.
And Wifi in the Home
In the UK the main mobile providers (Vodafone,
EE, 02 and Three) automatically block 18+ rated content. But..and there is
always a BUT – young people can get past this with a VPN (Virtual Private
Network). VPN’s circumvent the restrictions on their device so the blocking wont
be effective, meaning content that would otherwise be restricted or blocked could be
accessed. The teenager may only want to
access certain music videos which are restricted to 18’s but it’s worth taking
note and staying aware of what the most common VPN icons look like.
Your current broadband provider may offer built
in parental controls. These help with filtering or monitoring of what’s in use
and being accessed while the user is using the broadband or Wifi. It’s also
important to remember if a device is being used outside of the home via 3G or
4G then the Parental controls which your broadband provider provides may not
work. So you’ll need to consider a Parental Control that works on all your
devices, inside and outside the home. These
are not overpriced but they’re not free.
PS4 and Xbox offer Parental controls which allow parents to manage and
restrict access to content and games which are age appropriate. At first – when you look into parental
controls on gaming consoles these may seem difficult to navigate and set up. Don’t
panic – we’ve created a handy blog post on how to set them up on popular gaming
consoles. Click here.
Also keep an eye on the PEGI Games ratings.
Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto whatever versions they are, are 18+ there’s
really no reason why a 10 year old should be playing these types of games. Unless
you want him to grow up really fast.
Having basic screen time boundaries in place is
key. It helps limit the time which is
being spent playing games, accessing social media and using the Internet. Screen time can get a bad press. But it’s
excessive screen time that does the damage.
Making good choices about what they’re watching is also crucial.
Going online is fun and a daily essential these
days, we all enjoy it. But balance is also essential. Ofcom reported recently that some children
enjoy watching others partake in activities so much on Youtube that they no
longer took part in those activities themselves!
Regardless of which report you read, children
and teenagers spend A LOT of time online:
8-12 yrs – 6 hrs a day
Teenagers – 9 hrs a day
Children (5-15 yrs) 2 hrs 11 mins
61% of children aged 12-15 are allowed to take
their tablet to bed.
71% of children aged 12-15 are allowed to take
their phone to bed.
(Ofcom Feb 2019)
off point at night is important. There
is no reason why children and even young teenagers should have their phone in
the bedroom. Anyone can talk to them then in privacy and you cant supervise it
there – good controls help of course. Even then teachers tell us routinely that
many young people including young children are getting up in the middle of the
night to game, watch music videos or check/scroll social media and Youtube. They
arrive at school, exhausted and unable to concentrate.
As a rule of thumb, any high stimulation
activities such as gaming, video, social media or YouTube should be finished at
least an hour before bedtime to give them a chance to wind down.
NB Considering a No
Devices at Mealtimes approach is really important for screen balance. And that
means everyone mum and dad. Even granny can leave her facebook scrolling til
after Christmas dinner J – and every dinner. Check out Will
Ferrells antics on devicefreedinners. Don’t be like Will J.
Hope these tips are helpful and that you have a
fantastic Christmas and New Year!
And Stay Safe Online,
Wayne and Team
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