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Protecting kids from adult content

We recently asked Followers of our Safe Social Media for Kids Facebook page to tell us what worries them the most, when it comes to keeping their kids safe online. The survey found respondents were most concerned about protecting their children from the risks of viewing adult content.

Thanks again to everyone who took part in our survey.

Today, we’re blogging tips that will help you minimse risks for your children.

Parents are only human

Before we delve into the practical stuff, we think it’s worth mentioning that keeping your child 100% safe from every risk online is virtually impossible.

Like most kids under 13, your child is likely to spend time out of your care, at sleepovers, play dates or even with a babysitter.

With this in mind, even the most vigilant parent in the world will have trouble keeping tabs on their child’s online activity 100% of the time.

This is why we have also included information on what to do if your child does happen to view adult content. Knowing how to handle these situations is just as important as working to prevent them.

Tips for prevention

When it comes to strategies for keeping your child safe online, it’s important to choose methods that match your parenting style, and your child’s habits.

There is a lot of advice relating to keeping kids safe online, which is why we always recommend choosing the methods that work for your family, and your child.

The tips below are based on feedback from social media experts and parents we have interviewed over the past 12 months.

Using this information, we’ve compiled the most useful tips for you, our readers.

Supervision is king

Having a sound supervision strategy for your children is the best way to minimise the risk of exposing them to harmful adult content online.

Yes, there are a number of monitoring programs out there, but we have found that the most effective strategy is simply keeping your eyes on your child (especially when they are under 13).

Here’s how:

  1. Keep track of devices in your home. If you have multiple portable devices, ensure they are password encrypted so your child cannot access them without you.
  2. When your child does use a device, make them use it in a common living area, such as the living room or dining area. That way you can easily see what they’re accessing.
  3. To make supervision easier, allow a specific period time for your child per day. This could be after school, once all chores and homework is done. That way you can put this time aside to have a cup of coffee and catch up on your reading or social media, while you keep an eye on them.
  4. Use an egg timer or even an old-fashioned sand timer so your child knows how long they have online. Here are some guidelines to consider.
Age of child Screen* recommendation
18 months or younger Avoid screens, unless video chatting with relatives or other family friends.*
18 to 24 months. Only if you find quality content to watch with your child, or in the case of games, make sure you are playing the game with them.*
2 to 5 years 1 hour per day.**
5 to 13 years 2 hours per day.***

 

* Includes computers, TV and any device with a screen.

** Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

*** Source: Raising Children Network Australia

  1. Consider creating a rewards program for your child. This could mean swapping chores or homework for screen time. For example, 5 chores equates to 10 minutes of screen time. A chore chart is a good way to keep track of this, and you can weight each chore based on what you think it is worth.

What happens if my child does see adult content online?

Elizabeth Schroeder, Executive Director of the a sex education organisation at Rutgers University in the US told the New York Times:

“Your child is going to look at porn at some point. It’s inevitable.”

If your child does stumble on adult content, or if they do happen to search for it, opening channels of communication is the most important first step. Ask them how they discovered the content.

If they searched for it through curiousity, take the time ask them why. It may be that your child is curious about sexual reproduction. There is no set age for the birds and the bees talk, and thanks to the Internet, this is happening sooner and sooner for parents and kids today.

It is important not to shame your child for looking at adult content. Explain that it is normal to be curious about sex, but be sure to highlight that pornography does not represent relationships in the ‘real’ world.

For real life case studies about how parents have dealt with talking to their kids about looking at adult content, visit this great piece by the New York Times.

Find out more

For more tips on keeping your kids safe online, please visit our blog again. We also have a Facebook community, where you can connect with other parents and learn more about parenting in the fast-paced digital world we now live in.

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What you are worried about when it comes to children online

This month, we asked you to tell us what concerns you the most about kids being online. We’d like to thank those of you who took time out to complete our short survey. Your answers will help us to improve the blogs, and other resources we provide on the eebudee website and Facebook page.

Here is what you told us.

What are your greatest concerns?

Based on the data, we discovered that exposure to adult themes was the biggest concern amongst respondents. Online predators was your second biggest worry and cyber bullying was rated as the third least important issue to respondents.

  • 57.7% of respondents were located in Australia.
  • 36.5% of respondents were located in the US.
  • 3.8% of respondents were located in Canada.
  • 1.9% did not specify where they were located.

The graph* below illustratesindicates what concerned youparents the most. To give you some context, we have also included the question respondents were asked to answer.

Question: When it comes to your child’s safety and wellbeing, what issues concern you the most? Please rank the list below in order of highest to lowest concern.

For example: 1= What concerns you the most. 6= What concerns you the least.

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* Survey results generated by SurveyMonkey

Do you monitor your kids online?

Our second question related to whether you have any system or systems in place to manage your child’s screen time. 58.33% of respondents said yes, while 41.67% said no.

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* SURVEY RESULTS GENERATED BY SURVEYMONKEY

We then went on to ask those who did how they managed their child’s screen time. Many of you used timers to ensure your kids didn’t spend too long on devices, while others professed to struggle with finding the right method for monitoring screen time.

Here are some of the responses we received.

  • I use parental controls. 
  • Limits in terms of time available to use for gaming. No hooking up with other friends etc. to play games online. 
  • I use a timer and make them tell me what they are doing online before I hand over the device. They know to check in with me if something seems different. Mostly screen time is in the lounge room but if it is in their rooms I randomly check in. My kids are 8 and 11. All this will change when my eldest gets a phone soon. 
  • We only allow gaming on school holidays and have a limit of about 45 minutes of screen time during term, unless it’s for homework. 
  • Xbox or Netflix, 3 hours daily maximum. 
  • No iPad during the week. Locked away when not in use. 
  • Block out times where no devices are permitted; all devices out of bedrooms especially at night time. 
  • They get half an hour after school and we use a timer. No social media. Anyone they don’t know or I don’t know is to be considered a stranger. 
  • At this stage, I just keep them active with sports and friends. Also, we turned off our home Internet so we only have it on our phones now! We go to the library for homework. We’ll have Wi-Fi again soon though. 
  • Children can earn up to two hours a day doing chores above and beyond their everyday chores. 

Conclusion

The respondents, who did have monitoring methods in place for their kids, appear to use a number of different strategies. This aligns with our view that every approach to monitoring kids online should be tailored to your particular family dynamic.

Finding out what works best for your family may mean trialing a few methods, and then settling on one or a couple that are effective.

In saying this, we can see that using timers is a popular method amongst the people who answered our survey. Communication between parents and kids seemed to be widespread too.

Given most social media experts tout open communication as the most effective strategy for reducing risk for young kids online, we think you’re all doing exceptionally well!

Share your comments

If you’d like to share your opinion about monitoring kids online, or any other topic relating to helping keep kids safe on social media, please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

Once again, thanks for taking the time to complete our survey. Your feedback is very important to us!

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Kids under 13 and social media – what do they really know?

We often speak with parents about how they feel about social media, so this week; we thought we’d turn the tables and ask kids about their views. After all, it’s worth gaining a better understanding of the people we are trying to protect.

* To safeguard the privacy of the children interviewed, we have changed their names.

First, we spoke to Tom, a 9 year old boy from WA.

eebudee: Do you know what social media is?

Tom: Isn’t it Facebook and Twitter and all that.

eebudee: You’re right. Do you know what people do on it?

Tom: They share information with each other.

eebudee: Do you use it?

Tom: No.

eebudee: Do you have a computer that you use at home?

Tom: Yes, a laptop and my dad’s computer.

eebudee: What do you do on them?

Tom: I play Scratch and Mine Craft and I watch YouTube.

eebudee: What’s Scratch?

Tom: A programming game, it’s pretty easy.

eebudee: It sounds hard! What do you think life would be like without computers and phones?

Tom: Not that bad because when I was at Kings Park all of these people were just staring at their phones.

eebudee: And you thought they should be looking around and enjoying themselves?

Tom: Yeah.

Next we spoke with Lara, an 11 year old girl from Victoria.

eebudee: Do you know what social media is?

Lara: Yes.

eebudee: What do you think about it?

Lara: I think it’s good, but sometimes I think people use a bit too much of it. I still think it’s a good way for people to talk to other people and meet new people, but it doesn’t mean you can’t just go out and meet new people.

eebudee: Do you use social media?

Lara: Yes I do.

eebudee: What do you use?

Lara: I use Instagram a lot and I recently just got Snapchat as well.

eebudee: How often do you use Instagram?

Lara: Quite a lot, I probably use it too much!

eebudee: What makes you think you use it too much?

Lara: Sometimes I have to do something and then I totally forget about it because I’m just on Instagram. But I don’t think I use it way too much.

eebudee: What do you use it for?

Lara: I mainly just talk to my friends because sometimes my friends have been on holiday for a bit. It’s good to be able to talk to them when they’re not right in front of me.

eebudee: How old were you when you started using social media?

Lara: Probably not that long ago. It might have even been this year or last year.

eebudee: How did that come about?

Lara: I’d been asking for a long time to get Instagram, but when I got my phone, which wasn’t a long time ago, I was allowed to. Getting a phone is a big thing, so I was also allowed to get Instagram.

eebudee: Why do you think your parents allowed you to get a phone?

Lara: Basically just because I was getting older so I wouldn’t necessarily be around them the whole time. I’m almost in high school so I’ll be out with my friends. Also, because my dad was getting a new one and so I got his old one.

eebudee: What do you think life would be like without phones and computers?

Lara: It wouldn’t be that bad. I guess it would be a bit annoying not being able to talk to people when they’re not there – say you have a family member in a different place and you can’t – there’d be no way to communicate with them, which would be hard. But I don’t think it would be that bad without Instagram or things like that.

eebudee: What do you like about social media?

Lara: It’s just fun, say with Instagram, to show people what you’re doing and show other people what you’re doing. I have 2 accounts, one private and one public. One has photos of me and things I am doing, and one is for things I see around the place that look cool.

I started with a public account, and I wouldn’t post photos of myself because I just wanted everyone to see the things I see and it’s fun to just do photography. But then I also wanted to post photos of me and my friends doing fun stuff, but I wouldn’t want other people to see that, because I wouldn’t know who they are, so I made a private one as well.

eebudee: That’s a very smart strategy. Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Lara: Probably just for people who are just starting to get it – it’s kind of what everyone says – but just to make sure you don’t post anything you wouldn’t want random people to see.

Conclusion

Kids all over Australia, and the world, are likely to have very different levels of understanding about social media. Naturally, this will depend on a child’s age, the level of social media education provided at their school, and what you as a parent choose to discuss with your child.

Of course, there are many other factors that impact a child’s awareness, like what their peers talk about and do in their own time.

If you want to start educating your child about social media before they start using networks like Instagram and Snapchat, you may like to try our safe social media website, eebudee.com.au, which is in Beta phase right now.

eebudee is an online toolbox you can use to train your child about handling cyber bullying, privacy and other important issues relating to online life. This all happens in a secure online environment, so kids can discover without the repercussions of posting to public social media networks.

eebudee is for kids under 13, their parents, and friends and family.

Head here to learn more. And big thanks to Tom and Lara for taking the time to talk to us about their thoughts on social media, mobiles and the online universe!

 

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Is it illegal to post photos of my kid online?

A lot of articles about whether parents should post images of their kids online have been circulating online lately. Many are focused on the morality of posting photos of an underage person, who does not get to choose if their image is published online.

This is despite the fact that the person posting the image is the child’s parent.

Taking things even further, we’ve seen a spate of court proceedings, where young adults have attempted to prosecute their parents for posting images of them online, while they were underage.

We’re taking a moment to dissect this growing trend.

The issue

Before the advent of social media, photos lived between the private covers of family albums. Today, images of children are plastered on social media for immediate friends, and the world, to see.

We say the world, because when a Friend ‘Likes’ an image on Facebook, all of that person’s immediate Friends and other Friends can see it too. This is the case for most social media networks, but we’ll stay focused on Facebook because it is the most used social media network in the world.

The takeaway here is that when you post an image, it is seen by your Friends, and other people you don’t know.

But what about the little person being photographed?

They are below the age of consent, and may not even want their photograph seen by your immediate Facebook Friends, let alone complete strangers.

And let’s not forget the fact that most of us don’t really know all the people we are Friends with on social media that well at all.

An 18-year-old Austrian woman was so fed up by her parents posting photos of her online, that she filed a lawsuit against them when they refused to remove them.

The facts

  • An 18-year-old Austrian woman found out her parents had shared 500 images of her on Facebook.
  • The woman’s parents had 700 Facebook Friends, who were able to see her in different situations as a baby and young child.
  • This included situations involving nudity.
  • The photos were posted without the woman’s consent.
  • Teen Vogue was reported as saying that the parents did not receive a request from their daughter to remove the images. However, the woman maintains she did request their removal.
  • She took her parents to court to have the pictures removed, and secure financial compensation. (Source: USA Today.)
  • The woman’s father claimed that if he took a photo of his baby, he should have the freedom to choose how it is distributed, and where. (Source: Cosmopolitan.)
  • The woman argued that since the images were shared publicly, it is a violation of her privacy. (Source: USA Today.)
  • The case will be decided in November.

The woman was quoted as saying to an Austrian news outlet:

“They knew no shame and no limit — and didn’t care whether it was a picture of me sitting on the toilet or lying naked in my cot — every stage was photographed and then made public.‌ “

Source: The Local 

So is it illegal to post photos of your children online?

This depends on the privacy laws enacted in your area.

France has some of the strictest privacy laws in the world, with penalties of 45,000 Euros and 1 year in prison for those who publish or distribute images of a person, without obtaining their consent first.

Austrian privacy laws are comparatively less strict. The woman in the aforementioned case must prove the photos violated her right to a personal life. If this can be achieved, her parents could lose the trial.

In Australia the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) governs the unauthorised production and publication of a person’s image.*

The Act regulates the publication of personal information that conveys the identity of a person or allows their identity to be determined.* 

Under Section 6 of the Act, personal information is:

Information or an opinion (including information or an opinion forming part of a database), whether true or not, and whether recorded in a material form or not, about an individual whose identity is apparent, or can reasonably be ascertained, from the information or opinion.*

* Source: Australian Government Australian Institute of Family Studies – Images of children and young people online CFCA Resource Sheet, April 2015 

 What does this mean?

  • If an image allows a child to be identified then it must not be published.
  • This includes any image that allows a third party to determine where a person lives, or what school they attend – for example a photo that includes a child in school uniform.
  • Except when either the parent or guardian and the child consent to the image being published.
  • Given the child must consent to having their image posted online, it is arguable that parents must ask their child for consent before publishing images of them in Australia.
  • Since we don’t have any case law relating to this issue in Australia just yet, we can’t provide a real life example.
  • This is certainly an area of Law that may be explored more thoroughly in the future, as more and more young children from the digital age become adults.
  • Head here for detailed information on obtaining consent, and other issues relating to the Act.

What can I do?

We highly recommend reading this blog about the ethics of posting images of children online. Although we strongly believe every parent should be able to choose how they raise their child in this challenging digital age, we also think it is worth considering the growing legal and moral issues relating to posting images of children online.

Visit our Facebook page to be part of our growing community of parents who want to learn more about raising kids to be healthy and resilient, while still embracing social media and the online world.

If you have an insight or experience to share, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Legal Advice Disclaimer: This information is general in nature. For legal advice around this issue please seek the services of a lawyer or legal professional in your jurisdiction.
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Wildcats Star Shawn Redhage talks Social Media

Perth Wildcats power forward and eebudee Hero Shawn Redhage took time out to speak with us about how he uses social media in his life, including how he deals with online trolls and how he’d like to prepare his young kids for life in a social media world.

eebudee: What are you up to with your life and basketball career right now?

Shawn Redhage: Currently we’re in the pre-season of my 12th year with the Perth Wildcats, so looking forward to another year. When you get to this point in your career you enjoy the moments where you continue to keep playing. I’m just trying to improve and also appreciate my ability to still be playing basketball at an elite level.

eebudee: Can you tell us about your family?

Shawn Redhage: I’ve got a beautiful wife Gretchen. We’ve been married 13 years now, and two little ones – Hayley is 8 and Dylan is 5. They keep us pretty busy, and you know, they’re just starting to get into their own sports and activities, so it’s fun to see them kind of develop their interest and see them enjoying different things that I may not have experienced. Especially growing up in the US, you know Australian Rules football and netball; we definitely didn’t have any of that over in the US.

eebudee: What are your thoughts on kids using social media?

Shawn Redhage: I think social media is part of our lives now. There’s definitely a time and place for it, and as a parent there’s going to be a time when it’s going to come into your life and into your kids’ lives, and I guess, the longer you can hold it off, the better. But I think just accepting it and setting some ground rules about how it will be in your family is important.

I’ve been fortunate so far that it hasn’t come into play, as my kids are still pretty young. But as parents we’re aware of it and we even have some talks about. When the time comes we’ll hopefully deal with it in a positive matter.

eebudee: Do you use social media?

Shawn Redhage: I do have social media. I have a Facebook account and a Twitter account, and I kind of use it more as entertainment, you know, checking up to see what your friends have been up to or following interesting stories and keeping up to date with the news. I’m probably not an active Tweeter or even Facebook poster, but I do use it more as entertainment and I guess, keeping up more with my circle of friends and influencers.

eebudee: Many of the sports people we interview say they get negative and positive comments online about their performances. These negative comments are arguably a kind of bullying. Have you ever experienced cyber bullying?

Shawn Redhage: Yeah definitely, especially when you’re in the lime light as an athlete, there’s always going to be the positive and the negative. I guess if you’re going to be out there in the social media world and very active, you’re going to have to expect that.

I think its unfortunate, but I do view social media more as a positive thing and I think that’s what it was intended to be when it was created. But I think there is a lot of negativity that can come about in it, and I think it’s just a matter of learning to deal with that. I also think it’s not the real world in the sense that someone can really say anything they want at any point in these forums. There’s no repercussions so you’ve got to understand that.

It may just be one person upset and you’ve got 99 positives. Knowing that bullying may happen and trying not to let it affect you, as an athlete, is important for me. Especially when you’re trying to go out there and do your job, and not have any outside factors affect you too much.

eebudee: Do you have any advice for kids who have experienced cyber bullying?

Shawn Redhage: I think it says more about the person doing the bullying then it does about you. I think it’s never nice to have someone say something not positive about you, but if you flip it and put it in the perspective that it’s probably saying more about them, then it’s actually saying about you, then I think hopefully it won’t be as impactful as it should be.

In reality the people who are probably saying that in the background are not your friends. And if you have a good support system its very beneficial. But it’s sad that bullying does go on and I guess in my generation growing up, we didn’t have to deal with it from the social media perspective. I guess it’s become even tougher to be a kid these days.

eebudee: Any other thoughts on social media you’d like to share with our readers?

Shawn Redhage: I think social media can be a very positive tool. Used the right way it can be very positive, but if you are going to be in that space, it’s a matter of knowing there are going to be toms, there may be negativity, and hopefully that isn’t going to outshine the positives.

Get more insights from Aussie sporting Heroes

Our blog features regular interviews with eebudee Heroes, who share their knowledge and personal stories about social media.

You may also like to check out our website, which is a complete toolbox for young kids under 13, parents and other friends and family members who want to learn how to use social media in a safe and secure place. The website is in beta phase right now, and we’d love your feedback!

Head here to sign up!

 

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How to reduce technology costs for kids

Every parent knows the days of buying a bag of books and stationery before the new school year are well and truly over. Today, parents are expected to purchase cutting edge technology, such as the latest iPads and devices, which obviously places a real strain on a family’s back pocket.

Our latest blog explores this trend.

Why tech matters

Most parents understand the importance of helping their children stay up to date with changes in technology. Knowing how to communicate digitally is arguably just as important today as understanding math and spelling. It’s a vital part of most modern employment, and as such, a vital facet of any good education program.

But what about the cost to household budgets?

WA mum of 2 Lisa Sanders shared her views on the issue.

“It’s certainly something we struggle with every year, as it feels like if we don’t keep up, our kids will be left behind,” she said.
“In saying that, we do make sure we don’t overdo the tech purchases, as it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking the kids need every new gadget that comes out.”

Lisa speaks with other parents and friends who work in tech industries, such as IT, to gain a better understanding of what her kids really need.

“I’m good at knowing what I don’t know, so I like to ask my friends in IT whether ‘that new iPad’ is really necessary,” she said.

“Often the newer version doesn’t have that many updates, so the kids can get away with using last years for longer than they probably like.”

The BOD Revolution

A trend hitting schools in Australia is BOD, or ‘Bring your own device’. This works well for families such as Lisa’s, as they can discern whether their children should upgrade, or just stick with the device they are currently using.

Other schools allow children to rent laptops and other devices, which ensures every child has the same tech every year. This is certainly a good approach, as although BOD has its merits, it arguably puts families with a lower disposable income at a disadvantage.

What can I do to reduce technology costs for kids?

As a parent, there are plenty of things you can do to ensure your child has the best possible tech education, without breaking the bank.

  • Talk to your child’s school to find out their policy on technology. Does the school ask children to BOD or rent a device? Weigh up what works best for you and your family.
  • If your child does have to bring their own device to school, consider purchasing a brand that is unlikely to go out of date fast, such as an Apple product.
  • Talk to people in tech industries to see whether new versions of the same device contain big changes in technology. Chances are your child can continue using the same device for many years, without impacting their learning.
  • If you don’t have any tech contacts, head to online forums such as Whirlpool Technology, which features a large community of knowledgeable contributors who respond fairly efficiently. Our Facebook page is another community where tech questions can be asked.

Want to know more?

For more info on kids and technology, Like our Facebook page or subscribe to our blog. We post regular articles about how to keep children and young people safe on social media, as well as insights into balancing play and screen time and other important issues facing our children today.

You may also like to check out eebudee, a safe social media toolbox that teaches kids, parents and close friends and family how to use social media. The website helps kids adopt healthy attitudes to social media, and helps them understand how to handle cyber bullying and other tricky situations.

Our website is in beta phase right now, so we’d love your feedback!

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Thank you for helping prevent youth suicide

Over the past 2 weeks, we have been auctioning off Kookaburras captain Mark Knowles’ hockey singlet , signed by the RIO Olympic men’s hockey squad, to raise money for a charity that helps to prevent youth suicide.

All proceeds from the auction go to zero2hero, an amazing not-for-profit that seeks to raise awareness about youth suicide in Australia. They do this by speaking directly to children and young people.

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The auction result

The auction finished this week, and raised $510 for zero2hero. We received 40 bids for the framed Kookaburra’s singlet, which was kindly donated by Kookaburras captain, Mark Knowles.

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How zero2hero helps prevent youth suicide

At eebudee, we are passionate about supporting charities that help young people in Australia, and globally. This is why we hold fundraising activities, such as charity auctions.

zero2hero was chosen because of the way in which CEO Ashlee Harrison and her team connect and empower young people, who may be at risk of suicide.

Their vision?

Every child and young person is educated and empowered to effectively deal with mental health issues.

The team at zero2hero achieves this by:

  • Holding fun events like ‘zero2hero’ day, where schools and workplaces are inspired to learn more about mental health issues.
  • Offering schools the opportunity to host inspiring speakers, who share stories and insights about youth suicide prevention.
  • Running camps, which empower young people to become leaders in their community.
  • Participating in mental health forums, such as ‘In your head’, which will happen during Mental Health Week on 12 October 2016.

For more information about zero2hero, including how to donate to this great charity, please head here.

What next?

If you know of a charity that is doing amazing things for young people in Australia, the US or anywhere in the world, please leave a comment in the comments section below, or post your thoughts on Facebook.

We are always looking for new ways to support not-for-profits that are empowering and inspiring kids and young people.

Safe social media

Our organisation is eebudee, a ‘toolkit’ that assists parents with preparing their kids for the online world – the good, the bad and the ugly. We do this through fun, education and participation. You can check out our beta web platform at www.eebudee.com.au

By signing up to eebudee you help us continue our work helping parents, kids and communities.

We also post regular insights about how to raise children in this ever-expanding digital age. You may also like to check out our Facebook community, Safe Social Media for Kids.

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Online gaming may boost performance at school

RMIT University completed a recent study, which found that gaming improves results in science, mathematics and reading. The Australian study discovered that children who engage in online gaming are likely to achieve 17 points (approximately 4%) higher in a math test.

Here’s what else they found.

The study

  • Researchers analysed the online habits of 12,000 Australian teenagers, aged 15 years.
  • Data relating to online habits was taken from PISA, the Program for International Student Assessment.
  • It was then compared with the teenagers’ academic results.
  • Researchers found online gaming assisted with developing problem solving and analytical skills in young people.

Why gaming improves outcomes at school

Associate Professor Alberto Posso from RMIT was reported as saying to ABC.net.au that when online gaming, children have to understand at least some principles of chemistry, which means they need to comprehend science too.

Posso also told ABC.net.au that, according to some psychologists, large online games can benefit cognitive development.

What about social media?

The same researchers also looked at whether social media consumption impacted academic results. They found that using Facebook or other social media applications had the opposite effect.

That is, excess use of social media hindered academic success.

Why does social media reduce academic success?

The same researchers also examined whether social media consumption impacted academic results. They found that using Facebook and other social media applications had the opposite effect.

The negative effects of social media were mostly felt when teens spent hours scrolling through Facebook and similar social media applications. Researchers found that children who accessed social media every day scored 20 points less in math, than kids who didn’t use social media at all.

Posso told ABC.net.au that this was because kids are not really solving problems when they use Facebook. There is also the ‘opportunity cost’ of spending too much time on an activity that is not likely to improve academic performance.

For the full study, head to the International Journal of Communication.

What does this mean for my child?

These results may be scary to parents who have children that spend many hours on social media. But really, the correlation between reduced academic performance and social media use appears only to arise when social media use is excessive.

You may like to read some of our tips on monitoring children online, to ensure they do not tip the scale into excessive social media consumption.

In terms of gaming, we can now see that it is not the ‘waste of time’ many parents believe it to be. In moderation, it can indeed improve academic outcomes for teenagers. This is certainly encouraging.

For more fresh facts relating to safe gaming and social media habits, please Like our Facebook page – Safe Social Media for Kids. If you have an issue you’d like us to address in a blog post leave a comment below.

 

 

Teenagers working on laptop in school campus

How social media affects teenage brains

The UCLA brain mapping centre conducted a study on teenage brains and their response to social media. Researchers discovered that when teens received ‘Likes’ on a picture they posted, the reward centre of the brain is activated.

They discovered some other interesting facts too.

The study

  • Scientists used an fMRI scanner to take an image of the brains of 32 teens.
  • The scan was taken while the teenagers were using a social media application that resembled Instagram.
  • As the teens used the app, the scientists noticed that specific areas of the brain were activated when the teens received ‘Likes’ on pictures they posted.
  • The reward centre of the brain was the most active region.
  • Likes were actually assigned by the UCLA research team, although the teens thought their peers were responsible for them.
  • When a teenager saw a high volume of ‘Likes’ on their own photo, the nucleus accumbens, a section of the brain responsible for reward circuitry, was noticeably active.

What does this mean?

Researchers believe that since reward centres of the teenage brain are activated when using social media, they are likely to want to keep using it more.

UCLA lead author Lauren Sherman was reported as saying to CNN that reward circuitry is thought to be particularly sensitive in adolescence. This, in turn, may explain why teenagers use social media so avidly.

The impact of peer influence

The experiment also had implications relating to how teens react to their peers Liking a post on a social media app. Participants were shown a number of ‘neutral’ images, including things like friends and food, as well as ‘riskier’ images containing alcohol and cigarettes.

Researchers found that the kind of image did not affect the quantity of ‘Likes’. Instead, teens were more likely to ‘Like’ a picture that was popular with their peers, no matter what the image was of.

This has obvious positive and negative implications for teenagers, who are likely to feel good when multiple Likes are received, and bad when they do not receive a high volume of Likes.

What does this mean about the brain?

Scientists do speculate that social media is impacting our brains, especially plasticity, which relates to the way the brain changes and grows after it has different experiences.

When the brain learns something new, that experience is encoded in it. This happens because neuron connections strengthen and change.

For example, a study found that white matter in the adult brain altered as a person learned to juggle over a few months. Brain scans before and after showed distinct changes in the structure of the brain. (Head here to read the fully study.)

It also follows that time on social media could make the brain grow and change. Dr Iroise Dumontheil from Birkbeck University was reported as saying to CNN that these new social media skills are neither a good or bad thing, just a way of adapting to our environment.

Find out more

For more insights into how children and young people use social media, please Like our Safe Social Media for Kids Facebook page. We also post regular blogs on our website, so check back weekly for new articles!

group of teenagers in the park do selfie

How you can help to prevent youth suicide in Australia

At eebudee, we are passionate about supporting children and young people in Australia. This is why eebudee is raising funds for zero2hero, a not-for-profit organisation, which seeks to prevent youth suicide by raising awareness among children and young people.

Suicide affects more young people than you may expect. In fact, the World Health Organisation states that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death amongst 15 to 29 year olds worldwide (global data recorded in 2012).

Make a different to youth suicide in Australia

This month, eebudee is auctioning off a Kookaburras playing shirt, signed by every member of the Australian Olympic Men’s Hockey team. All proceeds raised during the auction will go to zero2hero.

eebudee hero and captain of the Australian men’s hockey team, Mark Knowles, kindly helped us to organise this special fundraising event. We would like to thank Mark and the Kookaburras for their support. And of course zero2hero, for the amazing work they do supporting young people at risk of suicide.

If you’d like to be a part of the auction, please Like our Facebook page for fresh updates.

More about zero2hero

zero2hero is an Australian not-for-profit organization, whose vision is to ensure every child and young person is educated and empowered to effectively deal with mental health issues.

Their approach is about empowering children and young people with inspiring speakers, hands-on camps and activities that raise awareness in a tangible way. We are proud to be supporting this wonderful charity. For more information, please visit their website.

Get inside updates from Mark Knowles at the Rio Olympics

Australian Kookaburras Captain Mark Knowles is posting fresh updates to his own eebudee Fridge. Check out what he’s sharing and leave a comment by double clicking on his photo or post!

Find out more

Our Safe Social Media for Kids Facebook page is a community for parents in Australia and the US, who want insights into raising mentally healthy children in this new social media world. We are about supporting one another, and sharing information that empowers parents and other family members too.

Connect with us and become part of the conversation.