As we all know, the online world has the potential to be a tool to explore great learning and wider opportunities, but also to be a place of danger and fear. In our ongoing efforts to nurture positive and safe use of the internet, it goes without saying that this is only fully effective if we can do so in full cooperation with parents and guardians.
The following guidelines and links will enable you to access up-to-date information to help keep your child safe in the online world.
With so many other activities for children curtailed at present, it’s now more important than ever to have conversations about their online safety and learn about what steps you can take to protect them
Some tips for keeping your child safe online
We would strongly advise that children should not be using apps or playing games that are not age appropriate.
If you would like more information on any of the apps or games mentioned, Commonsensemedia.org provides parent guides for all the latest titles and trends.
The Department of Education Northern Ireland (DENI), has produced an award-winning Safer Schools App to support parents and carers to keep children in their care safer online. This is an excellent resource which has access to information on the popular social media platforms and provides an insight on critical issues such as bullying, sexting and gaming, along with easy to follow advice on how they can make their homes and the devices they give their children safer. Safer Schools Northern Ireland – Ineqe Safeguarding Group
Getting the screen time balance
Screen time can offer children opportunities to learn and develop new skills at the touch of a button but like anything, too much of it can have a negative effect on their wellbeing.
Effect on behaviour
Effect on the brain
Effect on sleep
5 tips to get the best use out of your children’s screen use:
Lead by example
Just like anything, children copy their parents’ actions and behaviour. If you set boundaries for your own screen time, it will be easier for your child to do the same.
Set boundaries WITH your child
Get them involved in the process of setting age appropriate limits on how long they can spend online, at what times and on which platforms. Set up screen-free times or rooms where screens are out of sight and therefore more likely to be out of mind. Review these as they get older and give them the space to get greater responsibility for their screen time. An example of a Family Media Agreements can be found at https://www.commonsensemedia.org/family-media-agreement
Ensure a healthy mix of screen activity
Make sure they have a good balance of screen activities that encourage creativity, learning and education, connecting with family and friends as well as using devices for passively engaging with content.
Avoid using screen time as a reward
This will elevate the status of screen time above other activities and like using food as a reward may encourage children to simply want more.
Physical activity and sleep are really important
Make sure screens are not replacing these things by keeping screens out of bedrooms at bed time and that you are creating opportunities for your child to be active each day.
Below are links to screen time age guides to help children get the best out of screen time and adopt a healthy digital diet.