Screen Time and How to Manage It
Screen time, how much is too much and how to manage it, is a subject that is raised regularly by parents and teachers at our seminars in schools and our parent internet safety crash courses. With the growing number of screens that children now have access to, the time spent on screens can be a particular challenge for families across the country.
One of the questions we asked primary school children from 1st to 6th class as part of our Zeeko All Ireland Trend Report was: ‘How much screen time do you have most days?’ The findings make for interesting reading. 15% of children in first class said that they spend more than 5 hours a day on screens, 12% of second class pupils and 12% of 3rd class pupils reported spending more than 5 hours a day on screens.
It is important to understand what we are referring to when we say ‘screen time’; the time spent looking at a laptop, PC, TV, smartphone, tablet, iPod etc. All of these devices involve ‘blue light’ technology, to which children should not be overexposed. Overexposure to ‘blue light’ can affect the melatonin levels in the brain and can lead to disturbed sleep and poor concentration.
So what is the most effective way to manage your child’s screen time? The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP), which recommends that a child spends a maximum of 1 to 2 hours per day using screens, offers some very sensible advice on managing screen time. Here is a short overview of the advice offered by the AAP, which we support and encourage in our work.
- Treat media as you would any other environment in your child’s life. The same parenting guidelines apply in both real and virtual environments. Set limits; kids need and expect them. Know your children’s friends, both online and off. Know what platforms, software, and apps your children are using, where they are going on the web and what they are doing online.
- Set limits and encourage playtime. Tech use, like all other activities, should have reasonable limits. Unstructured and offline play stimulates creativity. Make unplugged playtime a daily priority, especially for very young children. And—don’t forget to join your children in unplugged play whenever you’re able.
- Be a good role model. Teach and model kindness and good manners online. Children are great mimics, limit your own media use. In fact, you’ll be more available for and connected with your children if you’re interacting, hugging and playing with them rather than simply staring at a screen.
- Create tech-free zones. Keep family mealtimes and other family and social gatherings tech-free. Recharge devices overnight—outside your child’s bedroom to help children avoid the temptation to use them when they should be sleeping. These changes encourage more family time, healthier eating habits, and better sleep, all critical for children’s wellness.
- Know the value of face-to-face communication. Very young children learn best through two-way communication. Engaging in back-and-forth “talk time” is critical for language development. Conversations can be face-to-face or, if necessary, by video chat, with a travelling parent or far-away grandparent. Research has shown that it’s that “back-and-forth conversation” that improves language skills—much more so than “passive” listening or one-way interaction with a screen.
At Zeeko we are pioneering the 5:1 Rule, as a way of managing children’s screen time. The rule works on the premise of, 5 hours of real world activities to 1 hour of ‘screen time’. On average, a child spends 18 hours a day between sleeping, school, homework, meals, hygiene and chores, leaving 6 hours of ‘free time’. With all of this in mind, we propose 5 hours spent on real world activities for every 1 hour of ‘screen time’ – the 5:1 Rule. Bear in mind that real world activities can include homework, meals etc. and they do not need to be supervised activities – it could simply be going out to play with friends in the front garden!
In the digital age we live in screens, are a fact of life. Once your child is encouraged to be balanced in the amount of screen time they have daily then they are on the right path.
You can read more about the AAP recommendations on screen time here:
The Zeeko Internet Safety Guide offers more comprehensive information and advice on managing screen time and other areas of internet safety. If you would like to buy a copy of the book you can do so here.
We update our social media channels every day, so you can keep up to date with our work by following us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Zeeko Internet Safety Guide
To mark Safer Internet Day 2016 we are delighted to forward you a free digital copy of the Zeeko Internet Safety Guide to download HERE. The guide will help parents empower their children to protect themselves online.
This guide provides advice and guidance on a range of internet safety areas such as cyberbullying, excessive internet use, digital footprint, stranger danger and a specific chapter on how to make digital devices safer.
The website www.zeeko.ie will give you a broader understanding of the work done at Zeeko.
Wishing you and your children a safe online experience.
The Challenge of Excessive Internet Use
Excessive internet use can sound like an intimidating term when you first hear it. It can also seem as if it is a relatively new phenomenon, but excessive internet use is a topic that has been known to psychologists for over 20 years. As we regularly say at Zeeko, the internet is a fantastic resource and a powerful tool that has become a very necessary part of our everyday lives. Therefore it is important to strike the correct balance around your child’s internet use.
Being able to identify excessive internet use early on is crucial in tackling the condition. Dr Kimberly Young is a psychologist who has specialised in this area since 1995, and has pioneered the study of this condition. She has identified symptoms in children which are key indicators of a larger problem
- Agitation and anger when interrupted online
- Irritable if not allowed online
- Loses track of time online
- Sacrifices sleep to spend time online
- Neglects fundamental parts of their daily lives to spend time online, such as homework, hobbies or chores
- Prefers to spend time online instead of with family and friends
If you spot these symptoms in your child, it is important to seek the help of a medical professional, who can refer the child on for specialist help if necessary. The common response towards excessive time online is to simply confiscate the device, either temporarily or indefinitely, but this can actually do more harm than good if the child has been spending a lot of time online. They will internalise negative feelings towards you as the parent, and you may be perceived as ‘the enemy’. Withdrawal symptoms can also be extreme, causing anxiety, anger, irritability and depression. Instead of this knee-jerk and abrupt reaction, take a gradual approach; slowly withdraw the device by gradually reducing the time you will allow them to spend online. Discuss the negative consequences of spending so much time online, and suggest offline alternatives that you can both do together.
Preventing Excessive Internet Use – The 5:1 Rule
We have conducted extensive research into excessive internet use, the habits amongst children in Ireland and the optimum time spent online in order to come up with an appropriate guideline in this regard. As a result, we are pioneering the 5:1 Rule; 5 hours of real world activities to 1 hour of ‘screen time’.
In order to use the 5:1 Rule, it is important to understand what we are referring to when we say ‘screen time’; the time spent looking at a laptop, PC, TV, smart phone, tablet, iPod etc. All of these devices involve ‘blue light’ technology, to which children should not be overexposed. It causes suppression of the hormone, melatonin, which is also known as the ‘sleep hormone’. Excessive exposure to this ‘blue light’ will disturb your child’s sleep patterns. It is highly recommended that screens are turned off an hour before bedtime, and that there are no screens in the bedroom. Experts advise that ‘blue light’ exposure at or around bedtime impedes upon sleep quality, and can have a significant impact on the child’s learning capacity, by affecting memory consolidation (the process through which new information is committed to the brain). In other words, a good night’s sleep is fundamental in optimising memory consolidation and learning (The American Physiological Society, 2013).
In addition, we recommend downloading a piece of software called f.lux (also available as an app). The programme is free to avail of, and removes the blue light from your screen in line with the natural sunset, thus mimicking natural sunlight patterns. This minimises the impact of ‘screen time’ after sunset upon melatonin production, which in turn reduces the impact of ‘screen time’ upon sleep patterns, so it is a valuable tool for children and adults alike.
The Zeeko Internet Safety Guide provides more comprehensive information on the topic of excessive internet use and you can purchase a copy of the Guide here:https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/zeeko/zeeko-internet-safety-guide
To keep up to date with our work at Zeeko keep an eye on our social media channels. We are also running a Parent Crash Course on 27th February and the 23rd April 2016 and you can find out more about these on this website.
Dealing with Inappropriate Content on the Internet
When we speak with parents at our talks to parents associations or at our parent crash courses, exposure to inappropriate content often features in the top three concerns regarding their children spending time online. Yet, when we visit schools, this is often the least explored topic, with many children unsure of what the problem with exposure to inappropriate content really is. Many do not understand why seeing photos of their favourite celebrity scantily clad or playing a gory and violent video game may not be what is best for them.
For many parents, this is a topic that can be incredibly difficult to get to grips with. It can be particularly daunting, given the wide range and masses of content at your child’s fingertips when they are online. This piece will break it down for you – from what inappropriate content actually means, to how to easily and effectively manage this risk within your home.
Inappropriate content is often used as an umbrella term to cover a range of topics deemed unsuitable for children. But there is no short answer when it comes to what constitutes inappropriate content, as it depends on the parent, as well as the maturity and age of the child in question.
At Zeeko we would consider the list below to be inappropriate content for most parents and children:
- pornographic material or content depicting nudity
- content containing swearing, inappropriate or offensive language
- content promoting alcohol and drugs
- sites that incite or encourage inappropriate or harmful behaviour such as vandalism, crime, terrorism, racism, eating disorders and even suicide
- pictures, videos or games which contain or promote violence or cruelty to other people or animals
- gambling sites
- unmoderated chatrooms (no one monitoring the conversation, language used or content shared)
This issue for many parents is that there are so many ways (both accidental and intentional) that your child can end up viewing inappropriate content.
Parents have told us that they find the following tips helpful when dealing with inappropriate content:
- Conversation is the key when it comes to inappropriate content – speak to your child early on about the types of inappropriate content that they may come across and explain why it is inappropriate
- Empower your child to recognise potential threats when it comes to inappropriate content
- Equip your child with specific steps to take if they come across inappropriate content (e.g. flip the iPad over face down and speak with their parent about what they have seen)
- Do not openly panic, regardless of what your child tells you – this will cause them to panic, to retreat into themselves or to internalise the topic they were broaching is a taboo subject that should not be discussed
Our Zeeko Internet Safety Guide offers more comprehensive advice and a more detailed exploration of inappropriate content. You can purchase a copy of the Guide here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/zeeko/zeeko-internet-safety-guide
If you would like to know more about our work at Zeeko keep an eye on our social media channels.
Every Primary School in Ireland will get a Digital Copy of the Zeeko Internet Safety Guide!
The first week in January 2016 was an exciting one for Zeeko, as we launched our crowdfunding campaign with a target of raising €5,000 to enable us to put a Digital copy of the Zeeko Internet Safety Guide, into every primary school in Ireland. We are absolutely delighted that we reached our target, within three days!
We also received a significant amount of media coverage from both national and local print and broadcast media, which you can have a read of and listen to here:http://zeeko.ie/
The media picked up on the results of our All Ireland Digital Trend Report, which were the results of research we carried out in late 2015. We visited over 45 schools across Ireland providing training for children, parents and teachers and surveyed 2,200 children about their online activities. The results make for interesting and challenging reading. Here are some key findings:
- Confirmation that hand held tablets are a more popular device used by students between 1st and 6th class than smartphones, laptops, consoles or iPods
- 67% of children in 3rd class access the internet, play games online and use apps from a tablet as opposed to 42% using a laptop or desktop
- 50% of children in 5th class have one or two hours a day “screen time” and over 30% of first and second class children are spending 1 – 2 hours a day in front of screens.
- IOS devices are more popular than Android amongst all age groups.
- When asked “if they had ever been cyberbullied or experienced cyberbullying happening to people around them” a worrying 26% of 2nd class students and 34% of sixth class students said they either had or knew someone who had been cyberbullied. 15% of first class children, 26% of third class children, 24% of fourth class children and 23% of 5th class children said they had been cyberbullied or knew someone who had been cyberbullied.
- Over 54% of sixth class students have admitted to speaking to a stranger online.
Some of the results of this report indicate that children as young as six and seven are creating their own online digital relationships by interacting with strangers online. We know from our work that this is of concern to parents and educators. Regular readers of our blog will know that at Zeeko we believe the internet is a great resource and has enormous potential in the education setting, however, there are also many risks online especially for children. As mobile devices and powerful hand held computers become more available and less expensive it is becoming more difficult for parents to restrict access. Many parents tell us that their children have apps or are using social media sites without their consent. Our advice to parents is that the best thing they can do is teach children how to navigate the internet safely. The feedback from parents attending our seminars is very positive. When parents feel informed they feel empowered!
The content of the Zeeko Internet Safety Guide, which includes information and advice on areas such as Your Child’s Digital Footprint, Cyberbullying; dealing with Stranger Danger, Excessive Internet Use and Inappropriate Content. The book also includes a chapter that deals specifically with safety settings on digital devices to help to keep your child safe online.
You can buy a copy of the Zeeko Internet Safety Guide here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/zeeko/zeeko-internet-safety-guide
Remember to keep in touch with what is happening at Zeeko via our social media channel
Dr Grainne Kirwan – Cyber Psychologist Specialist – On Internet Safety
Online interactions today may sometimes seem to be a minefield, especially for young people and their parents who are concerned about Internet safety. The temptation might be to prevent children from accessing online technologies entirely, in what may be a well-intentioned but misguided attempt to protect them from the various dangers online. Nevertheless, without the opportunity to explore the benefits of Internet technologies, young people today may find themselves seriously disadvantaged both socially and educationally, and a lack of appropriate skills may result in reduced career options as they grow older. Online activities such as social media and gaming have been found to have many benefits for young people, including enhancement of interpersonal relationships and social interaction, expression of identity, enhanced self-esteem, self-affirmation, leadership skills, cognitive benefits, and many more. The solution is not to prevent young people from accessing the Internet, but rather to help them to learn how to use the technologies in the best possible way, so that they can grow and develop the skills required for living in a world where the Internet is no longer a new and unusual space, but rather an integrated element of many aspects of daily life. Preventing young people from accessing online resources because of the potential dangers involved is equivalent to banning them from ever travelling in a motor vehicle or crossing the road because of the potential dangers inherent in those activities. A complete ban on internet activity might reduce the possibility of negative consequences from online sources, but it will definitely impair their ability to develop and reach their potential in educational, occupational and social settings. Instead of attempting to ban young people from the internet, a far more preferable approach is to recognise the similarity between road safety and internet safety – guide children on how to behave in online environments to reduce risk, and provide support for their problems and questions, in the same way that we teach them how to cross the road safely and, eventually, how to drive.
The Zeeko Internet Safety Guide provides tangible and specific advice on how parents, teachers, and others can protect children online, without unnecessarily impairing children’s development. Indeed, the authors recognise the dangers in imposing bans on using technologies, as children can easily access the Internet through other means, and if anything does go wrong, they may then be considerably less likely to seek the help and support that they need as they fear the punishment that may occur if they tell their parents that they have been online without permission. A child who has been banned from Internet use is doubly at risk – they lack the knowledge and skills to use the resources in the safest and best way, and they are more limited in who they can seek help from. The Zeeko Guide advocates a more appropriate response – aiding parents to encourage appropriate online use and clear communication, as well as providing guidance and suggestions that are easy for young people to understand and follow. The step-by-step instructions with screenshots included in the Guide will help parents and teachers to feel more confident as they configure devices to improve safety and privacy, while also removing some of the potential confusion which may arise as adults try to navigate the online resources and media that are used extensively by young people. This has the added benefit of increasing the likelihood that young people will approach their parents, teachers, or other appropriate adults for advice if anything does go amiss online – the guide advocates an open and honest channel of communication, and provides specific suggestions on how to achieve this. I believe that any parent who is concerned about their child’s online safety should read this guide, and that it will be an invaluable source of advice and suggestions which can be consulted over and over again.
Online Stranger Danger
Safety rules are second nature to children; belt up in the car, look left and right crossing the road and do not talk to strangers. So why in an age where our children are so aware of the dangers of speaking to strangers in the real world, are so many comfortable with interacting and engaging with strangers online?
The issue stems from the fact that children suffer from a cognitive disconnection between the real world and the virtual world. They often do not transfer real world rules such as ‘Stranger Danger’ and protecting their personal information into the virtual world. Children do not comprehend the importance of these rules as they often cannot see the real life danger attached to their digital activity. This naivety can leave children exposed to the threat of unwanted interaction with strangers online. Children are growing up with technology as an integral part of their lives, with technology becoming more and more a fundamental part of your child’s life as they grow and develop.
So what can you do as a parent to help to protect your child, from stranger danger online? Through our work with children, parents and teachers at Zeeko we have found the following advice to be helpful and practical.
Explain the dangers of speaking to strangers online to your child and emphasise that real world rules still apply online. Help them to understand why interacting with strangers online can be dangerous, what the real world consequences can be and why they should stick with people they know in real life
- Screen your child’s followers and friends on the social media and gaming sites that they use on a regular basis. Ensure they are real world friends. Work with your child to delete and block any followers and friends that they do not know
- For younger children you can set up ‘play dates’ for online games between your child and their real friends. Organise a time slot where you allow your child join an online gaming session. Outside of these organised times, do not allow your child to use a headset while gaming and turn off the chat function of their games
- Teach your child to keep all personal information private. This means that their profile photo should not make them easily identifiable (for example, wearing their jersey from the local football club or their school uniform), that they do not mention their address or school in their descriptions and that they do not tag themselves in locations
You can find out more about the Zeeko Internet Safety Guide for Parents and the crowdfunding campaign we are launching on January 4th 2016 via www.zeeko.ie
Buying Technology for Kids at Christmas
It’s the time of year when there is only one thing on the top of most children’s Christmas list and that is technology! Here is some advice from Zeeko on what to bear in mind if you are going to purchase a piece of technology for your child this Christmas.
Make sure that the technology is age appropriate:
For young children in particular, there are many ‘junior’ versions of technology that appear like they are a tablet or an iPad but they are not in reality connected to the internet and you can have knowledge and control of what games your child plays on these.
Keep in mind the positive aspects of technology:
Remember that your child can learn a lot through technology. They can improve their digital literacy, which will stand to them both now and in the future. If you are open with your kids and talk to them regularly about what they are discovering via technology this can make the digital experience much enjoyable and safer for everyone.
Research is Crucial!
Always familiarise yourself with the devices’ capabilities and research how well technology toys and devices meet your needs before purchasing them for your family.
Christmas is a time when families spend a lot of time together. Look for electronic devices that can be used in shared company, such as high-tech play sets, which the entire family can come together and enjoy.
Many popular entertainment devices and operating systems now incorporate parental controls. You can utilize these built-in settings to limit access to age-appropriate content. Spending time playing with high-tech devices with your children can provide greater insight into kids’ computing, browsing and usage habits, and preferred sites, services and software programs.
The team at Zeeko have written an Internet Safety Guide for parents. This book gives more detailed advice and guidance on keeping your child safe online.
The Zeeko Internet Safety Guide for Parents is being launched as part of our Crowdfunding campaign on 4th January 2016. You can find our more and pre-register atwww.zeeko.i
Age Appropriate Games
One of the issues we come across regularly at both our Academy’s with primary school children and our seminars with parents is the area of age appropriate ratings on games. As it draws closer to Christmas and children are asking for specific presents and parents are busy buying them, we thought it would be a good idea to give you an insight into what we have heard at our seminars and offer some hints and tips if games are something that will be a gift in your house this Christmas.
In the course of our work with schools we have heard of children as young as 8 playing games with a 16 or 18 age rating, sometimes the children may be playing these games at a friend’s house or have an older sibling who plays them. Some children see playing such a games as a challenge, while others may be completely unaware of the age rating and be absorbed by the content. Parents also can be unaware of the age rating and the explicit nature of the content. They will often know the name of the game(s), their children are asking for but will not know much more about the game.
Safe Online Games
So what is our advice at Zeeko to parents when they are buying games this Christmas?
We recommend that you prevent your child from being exposed to inappropriate content by allowing them to play age-appropriate games only. If your child is expressing interest in games such as Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto (or as the kids call it “GTA”), speak with them about why they enjoy that game and what aspect(s) of it that they like in particular. From our experience, children are not attracted to the inappropriate nature of violence or sexualised games. Generally, children are more attracted to the challenge and rewards attached to the game, they are drawn in by a particular element involved in that game. For example, many kids who play Grand Theft Auto enjoy the free-roaming aspect, whereby they can walk or drive around and explore. Explain why this game is inappropriate, and that you are not comfortable with them playing it. You can then find a child-friendly alternative as a compromise, which incorporates the element(s) that your child enjoys, in a more child-friendly way. In the case of Grand Theft Auto, The Simpsons Hit & Run is very similar in concept, without the adult content. Common Sense Media (commonsensemedia.org) is a fantastic resource, which we recommend to source age-appropriate alternatives.
Don’t forget to spread the word about our crowdfunding campaign which we are launching on January 4th 2016. We need your help to kickstart the campaign
The Zeeko Crowdfunding Campaign – 4th January 2016
January 4th 2016 is a significant date for us here at Zeeko. That is the date that our crowdfunding campaign goes live! So why are we launching such a campaign and how will it work?
A large focus of our work at Zeeko is providing internet safety seminars for children, parents and teachers in primary schools throughout Ireland. In the course of delivering these seminars we have come into contact with a large number of parents, all of whom have questions and often are significantly concerned about their child’s digital experience. Parents can also feel out of their depth in relation to the technology and the myriad of apps now used by children to communicate digitally. Protecting their child is without doubt the primary concern of any parent, but the online world can pose significant challenges to parents, challenges that were not there a decade ago.
At Zeeko we passionately believe that ultimately education leads to empowerment. Therefore we decided to produce a resource for parents to help them keep their kids safe online. The Zeeko Internet Safety Guide is packed with great advice, up to date research and safety tips that parents can use on a daily basis to help their child navigate the digital space.
Why are we launching a crowdfunding campaign?
Our founder and CEO, Joe Kenny is the father of a young son, who believes that the internet is a fantastic resource but one which children need support to navigate. The motivation in setting up Zeeko, for Joe was the impact that online chat rooms were having on the lives of young people and felt that there had to be a better way, a way to embrace the positives that the digital world has to offer while at the same time remaining safe. With this at the forefront of his mind Joe invested.
As a start up company we operate with limited resources! We want to make a digital copy of the Zeeko Internet Safety Guide available to every primary school in Ireland. In order to make this happen we need people to make a pledge and to essentially back our campaign! Crowdfunding is a relatively new concept in Ireland, but it is a very effective way of helping to fund projects, like this one.
What will happen on January 4th 2016?
Our campaign will be launched to the media at 10am and our campaign will then go live! This will mean that you will be able to go online and make a pledge to back our campaign. Depending on the amount you can afford to pledge you will receive a reward, pledges in excess of €15 will receive a hard copy of the Zeeko Internet Safety Guide. Every single pledge matters to us, and will help to ensure that a digital copy of the Guide is available to every primary school in Ireland.
Spreading the word on social media
Regular readers of our blog will know that we see the internet as a fantastic resource; it just has to be navigated with caution, particularly for children. No surprise then that we are using our social media platforms Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to spread the word about our campaign, both in advance of the launch and of course on the day itself! You can keep up to date by following us on Twitter @Zeeko_Education, Like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/ZeekoEducation and follow us on LinkedIn www.linkedIn.com/company/zeeko
Why this campaign matters!
Communicating digitally is now a part of everyday life. Children are now digital natives, in other words they are aware of digital communication from a very young age. For parents this can produce very unique challenges and opportunities. The publication of the Zeeko Internet Safety Guide will help to support parents and children as they learn together to navigate through their digital journey.
Help us to support parents and their children on their digital journey, back our campaign on January 4th 2016.
Viewing the Internet from a Parents Perspective
As a parent of a child currently in primary school, it is likely that your child is more of a digital native than you are! As parents ourselves at Zeeko we are well aware of the concerns that many parents have about their child’s experience of the internet.
The first thing to remember is that there are two people learning through this, you and your child. As a parent you are responsible for what is known as your child’s digital footprint or shadow. The fact that social media is now everywhere and always available means that kids have a social media presence at a younger and younger age, they are also going mobile, in other words they don’t even need a phone to communicate with friends they can use a large range of devices. Also the fact that WIFI is so widely available means that kids can access the online world very simply.
The research we carried out at Zeeko across primary schools in Dublin, indicates that the most effective way to manage your child’s online communication is throughactive mediation- educating your children through open communication. So what does this mean? Essentially it means, giving your child the tools and education that they need to protect themselves against threats on the internet. Allow them to reap the benefits of the internet for education, entertainment and safe communication. Empower them to be a responsible Internet user, to be comfortable talking about their online endeavours and perhaps most importantly, to speak up if they are confronted with any issues or challenges without fear of punishment.
A mantra we use regularly at Zeeko is to treat the internet like it is a noticeboard. It is not usually possible to have posts to social media sites removed or deleted, so a good question to ask yourself and to encourage your kids to ask before they post something online is: Would I be happy to wear this on a t-shirt.
When we visit schools to children about staying safe online often use an exercise called the t-shirt rule. We ask the children to think of posting online as if they were going to have to wear what they post on the front of a t –shirt. This certainly makes them think about the fact that what we post online is there forever! We also encourage the children to think about their future, what they might like to work as for example, and then explain to them that a future employer may well look at their digital footprint before they give them a job. This also has a big impact on how the children view what they post online. These tips are ones that you can use at home to encourage your child to be mindful of how they communicate digitally.
It is very important that you have regular conversations with your child about how they are communicating online. Having open conversations will lead to your child feeling comfortable about telling you what they are doing while they are online. You will also be able to use these conversations to steer your child towards responsible internet usage, without being forceful.
Our experience at Zeeko of working with children and parents has helped us to develop the following tips for Active Mediation:
Familiarise yourself with the apps and or social media sites that your child regularly uses.
A tell, no blame policy where your child’s digital communication is concerned is a good idea. If your child is frightened of being punished, they are far less likely to tell you about what they are experiencing when they are online.
If your child comes to you with an online problem, take the issue offline immediately. Talking with your child, calmly about the problem will help you both to understand how best to deal with it.
You can find out more about Zeeko parent seminars on our website. On January 4th 2016 we will be launching the Zeeko Internet Safety Guide for Parents, which will include more detailed information on how to digitally parent your child.
Using the Internet for Education with your Kids – The Do’s and Don’ts
A Report published by the OECD in September 2015, into the use of ICT in education, produced a finding that schools have yet to take advantage of the potential of technology in the classroom.(http://www.oecd.org/education/new-approach-needed-to-deliver-on-technologys-potential-in-schools.htm). As a parent you can encourage your child to take advantage of technology to contribute to their learning. At Zeeko we always start any presentation we make by saying that the internet is a fantastic resource and it really is! What is important is how the internet is navigated by both parents and children. The internet can also be an amazing educational resource in particular for children. In this blog we are going to offer you some advice on the do’s and don’ts of using the internet as an educational tool with your children.
The first thing to remember is to talk to your children about using the internet in a language that they understand. Your children are probably more familiar with the net than you are! So, try to familiarize yourself with some terms that they use regularly and start a conversation from there. This is a good starting point in general terms regarding use of the internet by children but also when using the internet as an educational tool. So let’s get specific about the some do’s and don’ts
Do your research! Make sure that any sites your children use for help with homework or projects have a strong educational base. National Geographic Kids, (http://kids.nationalgeographic.com) or BBC Education (http://www.bbc.co.uk/learning/) are just two examples, but there are lots out there.
Help your children with homework and or projects where they are using the internet. This can be a great way to see how your child is doing academically, while still having fun. When children work on projects they often don’t feel the same pressure as if they were preparing for a test or completing a standard piece of homework. This means that they can be more relaxed and actually be learning more as a result!
Ask for advice. Link in with your child’s teacher or some schools have a teacher who has been given specific responsibility for ICT within the school, they will be able to offer some guidance on the best websites to use and may also be in position to know areas that your child needs to focus on if they are having a difficulty with a particular subject.
Do encourage your child to use what they find out via the internet as a starting point. Communicate to them the importance of using their own ideas, their imagination and putting forward their own point of view.
Don’t panic! If your child says they have a project to do for school and want to use the internet to do it. If you’re confident about using the internet as an educational tool your child will be too.
Don’t forget to apply the same principals you do to homework to doing projects online. If you feel your child is spending too long on the internet doing the research element of a project, encourage them to move on to another piece of homework and come back to the project later.
Don’t forget to remind your child about the Stop, Block Tell rule that we use at Zeeko, when we visit schools to talk to children about staying safe online. Stop; don’t respond to unwanted attention online. Block any people you don’t know and Tell your Chatbudi (an adult who you trust), how you are feeling about what you have seen online. Even if they are using the internet for educational purposes children can still come across inappropriate material.
Don’t feel under pressure to allow your child to constantly use the internet for homework or projects. It is important that your child see’s the internet as only one means of doing research and that there are many other ways to discover the answers to the questions they are asked!
So, without a doubt the internet is a very useful educational tool. It’s all about empowering yourself as a parent to educate your child to stay safe online.
18th November 2015 – STOP BLOCK TELL
Everyone knows the Safe Cross Code, right? Stop, Block, Tell is the internet Safe Cross Code, to help protect your child online Read more
Everyone knows the Safe Cross Code right?
It’s the shorthand for the rules for crossing the road, and it’s a great way to create not just an awareness of danger for young children, but it’s also great shorthand for a set of steps to safety. It’s got a catchy tune and all, so that young children – and their minders – can learn the safe way to cross a busy street. Essentially the safety code for crossing the road is to stop, look and listen before walking straight across the road. Stop. Look. Listen. Walk. Keep Watching.
As a parent, none of us would let our young primary school child cross the road on their own without supervision or without teaching them the Safe Cross Code. Yet, a busy route that has a lot more dangers in it than a busy road – the Internet – is being navigated all the time by young unsupervised children without any rules being taught beforehand. Much of the time, minders don’t realize their young charges are out there navigating this new highway, often on roads designated only for adults.
The Internet can be a terrific resource for young children, but it can also hold its dangers, and we at Zeeko want to help parents – and children – to learn their own Safe Cross Code for the Internet.
We call it STOP, BLOCK, TELL.
This is what we show primary school children at our seminars, and what we advise parents and minders to do when supervising children using the Internet. These are the rules that can be used at home as well. We even have hand movements to go with the rules, that our young learners enjoy using when we give seminars in primary schools on Internet Safety for children. It’s a code for helping children who encounter inappropriate content or have experiences that make them feel bothered or upset. These include cyberbullying, but also unintended comments or photographs.
The first step is to stop the content coming into your phone or computer. If a child feels something is not right – even if they are not sure why – the first step is always to stop it. That means not replying to a post, not sharing a post, comment or photo. It also means not writing something like “go away” or “leave me alone”.
Every child who is using Snapchat, Facebook (yes we know it’s for over 13s but that doesn’t stop primary school children using it), or Instagram should know how to block a user who is bothering them. It’s an easy thing to do, and a child who knows how to do this is being empowered to take care of themselves, an important part of the Zeeko approach to internet security. Blocking a user means they can no longer contact you, and there is also a facility to report a user. We believe that reporting should be a last resort, such as persistent unsolicited contact from a stranger. Our Zeeko guide to Internet Security includes a section showing you how to block users if you wish to.
The third step we teach a child is to tell someone if you are worried or upset about anything you have seen on the Internet, including social media. That person can be a member of your family, but ideally an adult or trusted person who will take action for you. This might be a website with inappropriate material, or – more likely – a comment or photograph on social media that has upset the child. So showing someone not only means you are sharing the worry it might have caused you, it also means someone can reassure you and protect you. Being a victim of cyberbullying can sometimes mean you are afraid to speak out; but telling someone is the first step to solving the problem. We encourage adults to help children to discuss with their child how he or she feels about a negative online experience.
TO SUMMARISE, we believe children can use the Internet safely, but do need to be taught about the dangers, the boundaries and what do to if they run into danger.
The STOP, BLOCK, TELL code is an effective way of helping children to learn how to take care when they are on the web, including social media.
As smartphones and free Wi-Fi become the norm in our day to day lives, our young children need to know the rules that help keep them safe on the internet.