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How to Raise Healthy Kids in the Digital Age

With screen time consuming most of our days, we have to be conscious of how this trend is affecting our kids and shaping their young minds. Growing research supports the notion of parents using media as a teaching tool to increase digital literacy skills and as a way to discourage kids from mindlessly consuming media.

What does this mean for parents?

It means that we must teach our kids that media represents far more than entertainment—it can involve learning through an educational app or game, creating videos, songs, or pictures, and connecting with others. Parents should actively encourage family connection through media—this involves using media together as a family.

For younger children in particular, pediatrician Jenny Radesky encourages prioritizing “unplugged, social, and unstructured play as much as possible” over any kind of screen time. We have known for years that creative play is good for children, but boredom is also beneficial for child development.  Screen time can become a mind-numbing outlet where kids disengage their brains and escape boredom. However, psychologists actually encourage boredom, emphasizing that it helps children learn to be still, quiet their minds, sit with themselves, and understand who they are.

Here are some tips to help you be a better digital role model for your child:

  • Don’t reach for your phone when you’re distracted.

Yes, we all multitask, and thanks to our phones, we can multitask more than ever before. But if you’re eating dinner, responding to work emails on your phone, and listening to your child talk about his day at school (all at the same time), your child isn’t getting your full, undivided attention. Plus, they learn that it’s acceptable to reach for their phone or tablet whenever they’re bored, distracted, or fidgety.

It’s important to teach your child that there is a time and a place for using their devices, but that there also must be certain spots in your home and times in the day where devices aren’t allowed, so that you and your family can talk, listen, and interact without devices or without feeling the need to multitask.

  • Don’t use an electronic device to soothe your child during or after a tantrum.

If your child is throwing a screaming, arms-flailing, rage-filled tantrum in a crowded supermarket, and you simply want the theatrics to stop quickly and with as little effort as possible, it can be tempting to hand them a tablet or smartphone to pacify them. However, parents shouldn’t use electronic devices to calm their child down during or after a tantrum.

According to Medical Daily, “pacifying children with a device doesn’t treat their behavior, but instead delays and possibly worsens the problem.” This practice can also hobble effective communication between the parent and child, making it more likely that the child will not listen to their parents when another tantrum or fight occurs.

  • Don’t feel pressured to introduce technology early.

Don’t feel like you have to introduce technology or media into your child’s life earlier than you or they feel comfortable in order to secure a competitive advantage. According to pediatrician Jenny Radesky, “interfaces are so intuitive that children will figure them out quickly” and catch up with their peers once they’re older or in school.

If you want to slowly begin teaching your young child about internet safety, online etiquette, and social media in a safe, private environment, we encourage you to check out eebudee, a training platform that prepares kids aged 4 to 12 (and their families) for the online world.

To sign up, head to our website. The eebudee chat app is also available on Android and iPhone.

**The eebudee online platform and app are in beta phase and will be officially launched in 2017. If you have any feedback or suggestions, we would love to hear from you.**

new technologies concept: hands with touchscreen tablet with parental control on the screen. Screen graphics are made up.

Do You Monitor Your Kids Online?

Are you curious about what your young kids are up to online? You’re not alone. There are a wide range of parental control and monitoring software and apps available for parents to choose from, and we’ll discuss these options later in this post.

Although monitoring apps are certainly useful, we strongly believe the best approach to keeping kids safe online is speaking openly with them about the risks as soon as they start using a computer. Parents often use social media monitoring software as one part of a multi-faceted approach.

Of course, every family will have their own approach to parenting, and it’s important that you choose a strategy that works for you and your children.

We’d also like to mention that new monitoring apps enter the market frequently. We’ve taken a moment to review some of the more popular options on the market, so you can more easily decide whether monitoring software is right for you, and if so, which version may work best for your family.

But first, we want to delve into why parents are so eager to track their kids online.

What’s fueling the demand for parental monitoring apps and software?

According to ABI Research, there are a couple of factors fueling the billion dollar online tracking industry:

  • inadequate cyber education for children;
  • insufficient parental knowledge about the rapidly changing cyber industry; and
  • a resulting lack of parental confidence.

What apps are available for monitoring social media and Internet use?

The common denominator for each of the apps below is that they aren’t designed for spying on your child’s devices; instead the apps are meant to prompt discussions with your child if suspicious activity is detected on their devices.

Bark (https://www.bark.us)

Billing itself as “your family’s watchdog for internet safety,” Bark analyzes the activity on your child’s device and alerts you when a problem is found. To sign up, you have to connect your child’s accounts (including social media, text messaging, and email) to your Bark account.

Bark alerts you via email and text message if it suspects anything suspicious, such as sexting, cyber bullying, or even suicidal thoughts, and includes recommended actions to handle the situation.

With Bark, you don’t have to comb through your child’s social media posts or text messages, so you build trust and an open dialogue with your child as issues arise.

Cost: The first month is free, and after that, it’s $9/month/per family.

Pocket Guardian (https://gopocketguardian.com)

Similar to Bark, Pocket Guardian alerts parents when sexting, bullying, or explicit images are detected on their child’s device. Although parents can’t see the actual content or who it’s from, they do receive helpful resources specific to the alert type, which are designed to spark a discussion with their child.

Pocket Guardian works with Android and iOS devices; you can visit the website to sign up.

Cost: There is a 30-day free trial and then you have a choice of two monthly subscription plans. The Basic plan costs $9.99 per month, per household, and monitors SMS, iMessage, and social media accounts, while the Plus plan costs $12.99 per month, per household, and monitors everything in the Basic plan plus additional messaging apps.

Trackidz (http://trackidz.com)

Just as with Bark and Pocket Guardian, Trackidz is designed to be non-invasive in order to respect your child’s privacy. Although you can’t see specific content from your child’s device, you can track app installations and use, block browsers and apps, manage time in apps and on the device, schedule device-free time, track the device’s location, receive an alert when your child’s phone is turned off, and see your child’s contacts.

Another feature allows your child to send you an emergency notification by tapping multiple times on the phone’s power button; and when you open the emergency message, you can see your child’s location. Visit the website to sign up for the app.

Cost: There is a free 15-day trial, and then you pay a one-time fee of $6.99 (per family). There is no monthly fee.

Is there another approach?

In short, yes. Before recurring to these apps, we recommend speaking with your children about online safety long before they become teens. According to CNN, direct communication is best because it fosters kids’ sense of responsibility and resilience.

One way to begin the discussion is to use a cyber education platform, like eebudee, to equip your kids with the skills and knowledge they need to navigate the online world.

eebudee was founded to close this digital knowledge gap.

What is eebudee?

eebudee is a training platform that prepares kids aged 4 to 12 (and their families) for the online world. To sign up, head to our website. The eebudee chat app is also available on Android and iPhone.

**The eebudee online platform and app are in beta phase and will be officially launched in 2017. If you have any feedback or suggestions, we would love to hear from you.**

pexels-photo-56759-large

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.
Portrait of smart lad looking at camera at computer lesson

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!

Caring mother and her children at a computer

A Parent’s Perspective on Kids and Social Media

This week, I sat down with several parents in Northern Virginia to discuss their thoughts and concerns regarding kids using social media. Many parents expressed their frustration at trying to understand and keep up with the constantly changing social media trends their kids follow. Other parents told me they don’t bother trying to stay up-to-date with the latest trends, and simply keep their kids off social media altogether.

I spoke in depth with Kerry Searle Grannis, a nonprofit executive in Annandale, Virginia, who offered both a realistic and middle-of-the-road approach to social media. Kerry is a young mom to three kids, ages 9, 11, and 13 years old.

Keep reading to learn about Kerry’s perspective on the risks, benefits, and safety of social media.

eebudee:  Do your kids use social media?

Kerry:  My kids don’t use social media in the traditional sense. They aren’t on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, but they do access online games where they can comment, interact with other gamers, and be part of social media in that sense.

eebudee:  What do you think are the greatest risks for kids when using social media?

Kerry:  The most probable risk, although not necessarily the most dangerous, is oversharing. Young (and old) users alike have to be careful on social media platforms with writing comments or making hurtful remarks that they may later regret.

In middle and high school, there’s a whole social universe that happens virtually. In this online world, students use social media to jockey for popularity. For girls, this online social universe can be especially intense and difficult to navigate. And there is even greater pressure for girls in this age group to be on social media platforms.

I also worry about kids not getting a break from social media and feeling that they always have to be online.

eebudee:  At what age do you think it is safe for kids to start using social media?

Kerry:  I don’t think there is a completely safe age. Social media will never be entirely safe; you just have to start using it since it’s an important part of our world now.

Since 13 is the minimum age for opening an account on Facebook and Instagram, parents can slowly let their kids start using social media with supervision at 13. The key is to start this process slowly and have plenty of parental supervision. It’s also important for young users to exercise discretion on social media.

eebudee:  Do your kids have smartphones?

Kerry:  We bought our oldest child a smartphone when he was 12. Just as it’s important to implement strong parental controls with social media, I monitor my son’s phone use. In fact, before my son goes to bed, I’ve implemented a rule whereby he must leave his phone charging overnight in the kitchen. He can’t take his phone up to his room to charge. In this way, I know that he’s not on his phone when he’s supposed to be sleeping, and the phone isn’t a distraction in his bedroom. I can also easily monitor his phone activity when it’s charging in the kitchen.

eebudee:  Do your kids have tablets or other devices?

Kerry:  All three of my kids have Kindle Fires. My husband and I chose this device in particular because of its strong parental controls.

We first purchased a Barnes & Noble Nook for our son, and within a couple of minutes, he had figured out how to access barnesandnoble.com from the device. He began commenting on books in the review section of the website, where other kids were also commenting and connecting with each other. He had effectively found a way to use his e-reader to access the internet and was using the device as a primitive form of social media. (This story goes to show that you can never underestimate what your kids are capable of accessing, seeing, hearing, or doing on their electronic devices.)

My husband and I tell our children that the phones and Kindles are not theirs, but rather belong to us. Privacy and independence with electronic devices are to be given slowly and with caveats.

eebudee:  What are the benefits of kids using social media?

Kerry:  In order to learn social media, kids have to use it. You can’t live in a vacuum. Learning how to use social media is a part of learning to live in the world.

I’m a social media user and I think social media can be a lot of fun. For example, one of Snapchat’s benefits is the fact that there’s no pressure of permanence since any photo or video in the app self-destructs after ten seconds.

Access to information is also one of social media’s primary benefits. (In fact, I estimate that I get about 90% of my news from social media.)

eebudee:  Any final thoughts?

Kerry:  While access to enormous amounts of information can be beneficial, it can also be scary. That’s why as a parent, you simply have to figure out how to navigate the world of social media as you go. And you have to hope that your child’s learning mistakes aren’t harmful.

For more interviews and perspectives on safe social media, please visit our blog. If you want to introduce your children to social media in a safe, private environment, check out eebudee. eebudee is a free and secure social media network designed for kids and their families. Head here to sign up.

 

 

Hacker using laptop. Lots of digits on the computer screen.

Sexual predators – what parents need to know

The possibility of your child falling victim to a sexual predator online is every parents greatest fear. According to the FBI, ‘online predators are everywhere’, but the good news is that the likelihood of your child becoming a victim is actually unlikely.

With this in mind, we’re taking some time to discuss the hard facts about online sexual predators, and what you as a parent can do to minimize risks for your children.

The facts about sexual predators*

  • Over 500,000 predators are on the Internet daily.
  • Children aged 12 to 15 years are more susceptible to grooming and manipulation.
  • Over 50% of victims are aged 12 to 15 years.
  • 89% of sexual advances towards children happen in chat rooms online or via instant messaging.
  • 27% of exploitation cases involve a predator asking a child for sexually graphic images of themselves.
  • 4% of children receive ‘aggressive’ solicitations, which includes an attempt to contact the child offline.

* Sourced from the FBI: Child Predators – The Online Threat Continues to Grow

What to watch out for

Sexual predators typically use online chat rooms as a gateway to contact children. Chat rooms built around the premise of communicating with strangers are probably the greatest threat to children, as online predators can easily contact a child using this kind of anonymous chat platform.

Many online games also offer chat functionality; so sexual predators may also target gaming chat rooms in the same way.

In the US, 40% of children have computers fitted with webcams in their bedroom. The FBI has warned that it is possible to turn a webcam on remotely, without the owner knowing.

Facebook and other social media websites are also a target for online predators, who are known to create fake identities and communicate with children through private messaging. In the US, 70% of children accept friend requests from individuals they have never met.

While these statistics are indeed harrowing, it’s important to remember that there are things you as a parent can do.

But first, let’s discuss what a sexual predator is likely to do once they make contact with a child. This will help you understand what to watch out for more effectively.

What happens once contact is made with a child?

The majority of sexual predators target children aged between 12 and 15 years. Children in this age group are more likely to be using social media and chat rooms already.

On top of this, children in this age bracket are likely to be grappling with issues relating to adolescence, in particular, the need to be independent of their parents. Studies show adolescence is indeed a difficult time for children, and many feel lonely or isolated.

This is not necessarily the fault of parents, but part of the journey of independence every young person must take. Of course, it also makes them more likely to seek connection online.

Online predators take advantage of vulnerable young people, who simply want to connect with others and feel accepted. They are master manipulators who essentially prey on children by building trust and validating their feelings.

Their goal is to establish an emotional connection with the child. Then, it may be days or even weeks before the sexual predator brings up sex or requests inappropriate photos from the child.

What can you do?

The biggest and greatest thing you can do to help your child is talk to them about the risks of being online. Yes, we know it’s not a comfortable topic, but it is necessary to speak about it openly and honestly with your child.

Of course, in order to explain the risks to your child, you need to understand them too. By reading this far, you have already done a great service to your child. You now know how sexual predators operate, and hopefully, you have a better grasp of what to watch out for.

To help the process along, we recommend speaking to your child about these important points:

  • Explain the risks of being online – especially the fact that people may create fake profiles to communicate with your child.
  • Mention chat rooms – including the risks associated with anonymous chat rooms.
  • Tell them only to Friend people they know – so they do not inadvertently ‘Friend’ a sexual predator.
  • Highlight what a sexual predator may do – for example, they may seem like you or I in the beginning, then they may ask for photos, give gifts or manipulate your child into doing sexual things.
  • Make sure they turn off their webcam – explain that other people can operate the webcam remotely.

For more information on keeping your child safe from sexual predators, please visit this website. If you’d like ongoing tips and insights into safe social media and parenting in this digital age, please join our Facebook community.

Little girls and their mum with a laptop in library

Social media tips from mum and social media educator

Michelle Buck is mum to 3 girls, and helps young children understand how to use social media safely. We asked her about what it takes to parent in the social media age, and how she draws on her experience at Life Education to create boundaries and safe social media strategies for her children.

eebudee: Tell us about your role at Life Education?

Michelle: I am the educator for the Gladstone region. I deliver health and drug education to children from kindergartens, primary schools and soon to be high schools in the area. The role allows me to work with schools, communities and parents to enhance and reinforce children`s learning about topics such as nutrition, physical activity, safety online, the health impacts of smoking and alcohol and strategies to cope with peer and social pressures. My role is to provide children with important knowledge, skills, and confidence so they can be empowered to make safe and healthy choices as they navigate through life.

eebudee: How does Life Education integrate social media awareness into the program?

Michelle: One of the modules delivered to children is BCyberwise, which focuses on the importance of being safe, respectful and considerate online. Topics covered include positive interpersonal relationships, safe and respectful behaviours when communicating with technology, strategies for keeping personal information safe online, how to deal with face to face and online bullying and learning strategies and skills for supporting others who are bullied. Social media is also covered in the module, It’s Your Call. All modules, including these two, are discussed in parent sessions that are delivered with every school visit.

eebudee: You are also a mum, can you tell us about your little ones?

Michelle: I have three daughters; two at high school this year and one in primary school. My girls are very actively involved with tennis, swimming, and Tannum Sands Surf Club. Guitar and saxophone are also a part of their lives. When our sporting commitments allow, we love to head away in our van for weekends that involve the beach, sun and surf.

eebudee: Do you feel confident about helping your kids understand how to use social media?

Michelle: Before my role at Life Education I felt quite overwhelmed by all the technology and the confidence with which our children pick up new technology, apps and media devices. I remember being astounded by my six year old completing a PowerPoint for her class project. I was hoping I could avoid the technology; including phones, iPads and computers, and that my children could be the only ones at school with no technology!

I have since learnt that we need to embrace technology and as parents, equip ourselves with as much information as we can on how to tackle the social media world. Like with all parenting, setting boundaries for children is really important. When my eldest daughter received her phone we sat down with her and discussed the boundaries and rules; for example, no technology in bedrooms at night time to allow for sleep, no phones at the dinner table and social media accounts that are age appropriate.

eebudee: Do you have any advice for other parents, who are concerned about how to tackle raising kids in the social media age?

Michelle: My biggest advice would be to seek information through schools and community groups; for example, access the free parent session that is offered to all schools that have Life Education visit their students. Accessing websites that deliver information for parents, such as Life Education, where parents can see what their children have learnt in the session. But there are also tips and tools for families at home. By having the tools as parents to support and guide our children, we can all enjoy the positives from social media.

Keep talking to your children about what social media sites they are visiting, set restrictions on devices and access any information sessions that you are able to attend in your community. Talk and seek advice from friends and family and work together supporting our children.

I recently attended a webinar and the statistics concerning the age children are accessing social media sites and the sites they are accessing was quite concerning. As parents we need to be aware of what our children are accessing and have the tools and knowledge to keep our children safe in this social media world.

eebudee: Anything else you’d like to share?

Michelle: I would just like to say that we need to remember it takes a village to raise a child; this is for all parenting, including navigating this world of technology and social media. If we work together with family, friends, schools and communities we can create an environment that is safe, healthy and fun for our children in both the social media world and the world around them.

Get social media support

If you’d like support with helping your child navigate the world of social media, please explore our blog or become a member of our Safe Social Media Facebook community. We welcome questions and insights from parents all over the world, so please leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Father and son playing the computer games

Study shows parents should be gaming with kids

Remember when you’d sit down to a game of Scrabble or Monopoly with the kids? Research quoted by forbes.com says the modern version of this family bonding could be gaming.

According to psychology, games and family writer, Jordan Shapiro, playing games with your child not only helps you to understand what your child is doing online, it also forges a stronger connection with them.

Fostering conversation

Shapiro said that gaming with his children helped to bond them during the difficult period when he and his wife were separating. His kids became excited about spending time with their dad, and the experience also fostered discussions they would not normally have had.

For example, Shapiro found he was able to explore issues with his children, which linked the real world with the world of his child’s gaming. In essence, games became a conduit to great conversations.

Arizona State University (ASU) Researcher Elisabeth Hayes was quoted as saying:

“Gaming with their children also offers parents countless ways to insert their own ‘teaching moment.’”

Bonding through gaming with your kids

Another key reason to spend time gaming with your children is simply to take an interest in what interests them. Encouraging your child in their gaming efforts helps to bond you. Games such as Minecraft really do require a high level of problem solving and creativity, so encouraging this is certainly a positive thing.

Understanding gaming

Knowing what your child is doing online is another big issue for parents of the ‘social media’ or ‘online’ generation. Engaging in gaming yourself allows you to understand what your child is doing online, which means you are more informed about your child’s online life. You can then determine what is and is not appropriate, based on your child’s age and capacities.

Sharing gameplay

Parents may not realist that many games are designed for shared play. Hayes told asunow.asu.edu that:

“Often parents don’t understand that many video games are meant to be shared and can teach young people about science, literacy and problem solving.”

This is especially the case with adolescents and younger children who are showing signs of isolating themselves in their gaming. Sharing the experience with them can help to bring them out of this isolation, and encourages connection and conversation with you, their parent.

For more information on the study by ASU, please visit this link. If you’d like to know more about helping you child balance gaming, social media and technology with offline life, please Like our Facebook page, Safe Social Media for Kids.

Angry mother scolding daughter while sitting on sofa at home

When should I start talking to my child about social media?

A UK survey conducted by Safer Internet Day found three-quarters of children between the ages of 10 and 12 have a social media account. This is despite the fact that most social media networks, including Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram and Twitter, have a minimum age requirement of 13 years.

So if the majority of 10 year olds are using social media already, when should we start talking to our kids about social media?

When should we start talking to kids about social media?

We recommend talking to your child about social media before they start using a computer. For many people, that means having the conversation right now. Especially since children in Australia, as young as 8 years old, already use computers in some capacity.*

* Case Study

A report by the ACMA.gov.au found that children in Australia aged between 8 and 9 years were more likely to use the Internet as a ‘filler’ or ‘stop-gap’ between activities. This included visiting websites like Club Penguin, Disney and Moshi Monsters.

Children in this age bracket were likely to be closely monitored by their parents, with some parents using monitoring programs and Internet filters.

According to the report:

The majority of this age group do not yet fully understand how the Internet works, its capacity and the full extent of what they can do with or on it.2

Given most children start using social media at around 10 years old (often without their parent’s knowledge) it makes sense to speak with them about the risks of social media as early as possible.

What do I say to my kids?

When it comes to discussing social media, honesty really is the best policy. It is important to explain to your child that they may meet people online who have bad intentions. These people may even appear to be friendly at first, which is why they should only interact with people they know in real life.

We recommend speaking with your child about the risks of social media, even if they’re not using it yet. Developing smart attitudes to social media early will hold your child in good stead, as when they do register for an account, they already have a solid grounding in how to behave appropriately.

Here are other important issues to address with your child:

  • Make sure your accounts are set to Private, so strangers cannot view it.
  • Don’t post your location, as burglars could use this information.
  • Don’t post private information, including your phone number and address.
  • Never interact with people you don’t know. (And never use a Webcam with them either.)
  • Consider what you post before you upload it.
  • If you feel uncomfortable about something someone else has posted, tell your parents.
  • If you feel you’re being bullied, tell your parents immediately.
  • Use common sense! That means doing what you feel is right or only acting in a way you think you’re parents would approve of.

The Australian Government’s Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner has more information on what to consider when speaking with your children about social media. Head to esafety.gov.au to access it.

Find out more

For more insights into raising children in a digital world, please visit our Facebook community, Safe Social Media for Kids.

You may also like to sign up for eebudee, a safe social media app, which teaches young kids, parents and their friends and family how to use social media.

The app is completely secure, and ensures children learn about social media without the risks associated with Facebook and other public social media networks. Head here to sign up.

 

Girl Using Mobile Phone Instead Of Studying In Bedroom

What is cyber bullying?

Cyber bullying is a big issue in today’s digital age, and the ramifications on children and young adults are well documented. Today, we’re honing in on what exactly constitutes cyber bullying, so as a parent, you can identify whether your child is being targeted.

This is the first part of a series, which will later include tips and insights into effectively dealing with cyber bullying.

What is bullying?

People of all generations have encountered bullying in some form, at some time in their life. But with the rise of social media and mobile phone usage, bullying has taken on a whole new form.

It’s important to note that bullying isn’t necessarily an argument or fight between two or more people. According to the Kids Helpline, it is targeted and persistent behavior that is intended to:

  • demean
  • intimidate
  • embarrass; or
  • harass.

Bullying has other characteristics too:

  • There is an imbalance of power. This may occur if a group of kids gang up on one child, or a stronger child picks on someone with less confidence.
  • The behaviour is repetitive. Does the bully pick on the individual repeatedly? This may happen via email, on social media, on a forum or even over the phone. The point is that the message is being conveyed over and over.

What is cyber bullying?

Cyber bullying is a special category of bullying. The perpetrator uses an online platform, such as Facebook, messaging or email, to harass, intimidate, threaten or demean another person.

Cyber bullying is a very big issue in Australia, and many children have spoken confidentially to counselors at Kids Helpline about the issue.

What does cyber bullying look like?

Here are just some examples of cyber bullying:

  • Emailing or posting a mean message to someone, especially if it happens again and again.
  • Constantly teasing someone in an online chat room or a social media network.
  • Making up a fake profile and pretending to be someone else.
  • Spreading rumours about someone online.
  • Posting rude or inappropriate materials about someone on a website.
  • Sharing an image or video of someone, knowing it will embarrass them.
  • Intimidating or threatening a person online.

Why is cyber bullying so bad?

Bullying in all its forms is extremely harmful, and can have lasting effects on the person targeted. Cyber bullying is especially unique because a bully is able to embarrass their victim in front of a large number of people.

The online world is public, so any rude or embarrassing comment is likely to be seen by a person’s peers, plus any number of other people too. This is understandably traumatising for a person, especially a child.

Next week we’ll be exploring how you can help your child deal with cyber bullying. For tips and insights about keeping your child safe online, please visit our Facebook page or Sign Up to our safe social media app.