It’s that time of year when our kids are bringing home new technology. Maybe you paid for it or maybe it’s provided by the school (from your school fees of course!)
But it’s a tricky time, especially as they may know more than you about how to use it (you haven’t had a chance yet!) and they have had instructions from school about care and use too.
So my advice to parents is always to set some ground rules as soon as you can. Makes it easier on everyone in the long run. There are a few things you can do – besides talking to your child about what they are up to of course – to help things run a bit smoother.
All digital devices should be kept out of our kids bedrooms wherever possible. Charging should be done overnight in a shared family space. Maybe the kitchen bench or the office or family room. Check that devices are charged before you go to bed and you won’t have problems with complaints in the morning when you are running late and they’ve forgotten to charge it up. You also minimise the disruption to their sleep that the constantly pinging and flashing of laptops or tablets bring with them. If you do only one thing – make sure that there are NO devices in your kids’ rooms at night.
Get a filter
There are lots of great activities and resources online. And lots of not-so-nice stuff too. Make sure you protect your family as far as possible by setting up a filter. This ‘catches’ a lot of nasties at your modem, BEFORE it can be delivered to your child’s device. It’s not hard to set up. Instructions are here.
Ask lots of questions
Your kids will want to use their device all. the. time. It’s up to you to make sure you understand what they are doing. Kids are curious. They will click on links they shouldn’t and wander off topic (searching ‘Justin Beiber videos’ when they should be working on maths homework…). So we need to let them know that even know they are now in the online world, they haven’t left us behind. Even if you don’t know what they are talking bout, get the key words out of them (app name, website name) and google it. You have to learn this stuff too… Even better, get them to show you how their game/activity/resources work. Let them be the teachers for once and see them beam with pride :0)
No use in private spaces
Make sure that any time they are using their device, it’s in a space you can see them. You might not always be able to see the screen, but I’ll bet you can tell by their expressions and body language when they are doing something they shouldn’t be! If you are cooking dinner or working online yourself, have them near you. Ask questions and be interested and close by if they need help or support.
Get a proper bag for back support
So many kids carrying such heavy bags – and not computer devices but textbooks and sports gear and HUGE pencil cases (what is it with huge pencil cases!?!??). So we need to help them manage their bodies too. Most schools in Australia would have suggested backpacks for kids to use. These are usually ergonomic and better for our kids backs. They don’t have to cost a fortune but a good one is worth it – just compare the cost to 6 months worth of physio visits. The next step is to try and get your kids to carry it on both shoulders, with their heaviest items at the bottom. This is how the backpack is designed to be used. Yes, they may not think it’s the coolest but even if they ignore you at school, if you can get them walking from the bus stop with the backpack on two shoulders, it’s better than nothing…
New computers are exciting and kids generally love the way that digital devices let them learn. And with these few tips you can help them be safe, healthy and look after their new, expensive learning tool!
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