Soon it will be back to school and as parents around the country gear up to pack their children off to school for another year, Yvette Adams, author of the book No Kidding – Why Our Kids Know More About Technology And What We Should Do About It is calling on Aussie parents to do some learning about technology in 2015, so they can parent better in the year ahead.
“Parents need to understand the technology their children are going to be faced with daily. Like it or not, we are living in a technology-driven world, and being up to date with tech as a parent is essential, as a lot in your child’s world will depend on it: schools, jobs, and even basic interaction with people. If you don’t understand this stuff, how can you help them make sense of it,” says the author, Yvette Adams.
Adams says the current generation of parents hold a unique position, because are the generation that bridges the memory of life before technology to a life that is full of technology. As such she says they have a duty to help the current generation of kids and teenagers to keep some perspective on the matter of technology.
“The task is an onerous one. If we do a good job, the world will be their oyster. Opportunities which never existed whilst we were kids may present themselves. If we choose to ignore technology, and tell our kids they can’t go on social networks or use technology for play or for work, and if we don’t make time to take an active interest in what our kids are actually doing online, the ramifications can be disastrous too,” she says.
Adams, who is a mother herself of a 8 year old and 11 year old won ICT (Information Communications Technology) Woman of the Year for Australia at the National iAwards in 2013, is a public speaker (including recently MC’ing EduTech, Australasia’s largest education and technology event with over 4000 delegates), and is a regular media commentator on topics related to trends, technology and social media.
No Kidding – Why Our Kids Know More About Technology Than Us & What We Can Do About It is available in all good book stores in Australia, online at www.nokidding.com.au and in multiple digital formats including Amazon, iBooks, Google Play etc.
TOP TECH TIPS (feel free to use as a possible side bar)
Yvette actively encourages pro-active parents to download and user her Family Technology Charter to minimize issues surrounding cyber-bullying, cyber safety and general online use by their kids. The charter is available for free from nokidding.com.au/charter.
Here she shares some tips for completing the charter:
1. Set appropriate amounts of time to be on technology per day
CONSIDERATIONS: Is there a set amount of time that technology can and can’t be used? Different guidelines are provided by different authorities on appropriate time limits per day for appropriate age groups. Only 3 out of 10 kids aged 8 to 18 say that their parents set limits on their media use and stick to them according to the 2010 study Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8 to 18-Year-Olds, conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
2. Technology curfews
CONSIDERATIONS: Are there set times that technology can be used in your family? For instance, must phones, computers and gaming devices be turned off during meals? Must be turned off by 8pm each week night? What about on weekends and school holidays? Can they go on it before school? How will you enforce the curfew? Will devices for instance need to be handed into a central location by this time, i.e. a basket you keep in the kitchen or your bedroom to ensure no undercover use into the wee hours?
EXAMPLE: All technology must be switched off by 8pm on week nights and handed into the designated technology basket in the kitchen. All technology must be switched off and handed in by 9pm on weekends and school holidays.
3. Location of use
CONSIDERATIONS: Are there set locations that technology can and can’t be used? Some families for instance require that computers and smartphones be used in public spaces and charged in a central area – like the kitchen. In addition to removing the temptation for kids, it gives you an opportunity to randomly check texts and emails.
EXAMPLE: Technology can not be used at the dinner table or other eating areas at any time. The main computer in the lounge should be used for doing homework.
CONSIDERATIONS: Will the parents require access to all email and social media accounts at all times? Will they have the right to perform spot checks? Will they get to know their passwords? This is one of the rules that usually gets the most discussion going at our workshops as the kids will bemoan that you’re ‘spying on them’ and ‘don’t trust them’. A fair response is that if they have nothing to hide, they won’t mind you checking!
EXAMPLE: Parents may conduct spot checks at any time on any device and will be granted access by the kids providing their current username and password. If the parents discover any activity that contravenes this charter, disciplinary action as outlined in this charter may result.
5. Cyber safety
CONSIDERATIONS: What social networks is your child allowed to have an account on? What other technologies is your child allowed to use (e.g. Skype, Google Hangout)? What settings is your child allowed to have each account set to, and under what circumstances should they allow someone to become their friend/follow them? Note: some networks such as Instagram allow you to control who can and can’t follow you and see your posts. Others, such as Twitter, are considered an ‘open network’ and privacy settings cannot be applied. Don’t know enough about social media to feel confident enough to have this discussion? Read the chapter in this book on social networking for kids.
EXAMPLE: No one in our family will establish or have access to a social network account until they reach the legal age for use of the network i.e. 13 years old in most cases. Thereafter only an Instagram and Facebook account will be permitted.
6. Content sharing
CONSIDERATIONS: What sort of images can they use on their social network profile? A beach shot in a bikini? Their smiling face in an identifiable school uniform? Or a suitably abstract image with no face at all? What sorts of posts are they allowed to make? Are images of them in underwear or night time clothing acceptable? What about images in front of the home or school, clearly showing the location? What about their posts? Are swear words acceptable? Is spelling important? Are negative comments or shout- outs about other people acceptable?
EXAMPLE: Where possible we take and post only abstract images that do not identify us or our location for safety purposes. We definitely do not take or post any provocative images or any images which we may live to regret. We never post profanities, we take care will spelling and we never put people down. We treat others online as we would like to be treated.
7. Content consumption
CONSIDERATIONS: What sorts of pages are they permitted to like/follow? What course of action would you like them to take if they don’t feel comfortable with something someone is saying or doing online? Notify you? Show you? Will you commit to taking notification seriously and making it a priority to look into with them? Do you have someone to turn to if the situation is beyond you (ie the account may need to be closed or the police reported to)? Note: while rare, there is danger to children from cyber predators. Being flippant about personal information and technology can mean someone knowing exactly where your child is and what they are doing.
EXAMPLE: Technology should predominantly be used for educational purposes. As a family we agree on a ratio of 80% educational and 20% entertainment purposes.
8. Consequences of non-compliance with the family charter
CONSIDERATIONS: If your child won’t comply with the mutually agreed charter, what is the consequence? Some families have a ‘stepped’ discipline program for example for the first offense – they will lose their technology privileges for one week. Second offense – they lose their technology privileges indefinitely. That means they’ll have to use the computers at the public library for homework and go back to the bare bones: the most basic mobile phone without texting capability and internet access. How firm do you want to be, and what does your child think is fair?
EXAMPLE: For the first offence of non-compliance with the charter will result in a one week ban from the use of any technology, except where required for homework. For the second offence the discipline will be loss of the technology for one month, except where required for homework purposes.
And finally, but really importantly remember the old adage ‘Do as I say and not as I do’? It wouldn’t be fair to set up a one-sided charter and expect it to stick. If you are constantly texting at the dinner table and too distracted for conversations on the couch, the charter will disintegrate into a failed mission. Be prepared to allocate a section to what sort of behaviour your kids can expect from you regarding technology too (and potentially what discipline they are welcome to take against you! Ask for rights to a take-away meal? A foot massage? Make it fun!
Article Tags: cyber safety · cyber-bullying