I recently attended a lecture entitled “living in a disconnected world.” The lecture was promoted as an eye opening event for parents to see what is going on with their children and technology.
I noted some interesting points down during the lecture which I will share here. I had previously heard the same speakers on a similar topic two years ago. I was hoping for some new and interesting ideas and tips. Unfortunately I was very disappointed with the whole evening.
Things I learnt.
Children lack a moral compass. Children do not know what they can or can’t say in public. Children also often don’t realize that the internet is a public domain and that anything they say can and will be used against them.
Technology is used by parents as a babysitter. Often people place their children in front of a DVD instead of spending time with them.
Modern children lack empathy and behave without conscience. (see my post on CyberBullying for an example.)
Some ideas for Parents
It is important for parents to take control of internet usage. A parent must explain to their child the difference between what happens online and what happens offline. Realising that what happens online affects the offline world as well.
Children have little idea of what they are doing in the world. A parent needs to highlight the positives of technology and also explain to the child the negatives and dangers of technology.
It is essential that parents create a curfew for children with technology. Bed time is bed time. Switch the device off, put it in the kitchen where you wont get disturbed by email at 3am. Worse than email is a text message saying “Are you awake?” Children need at least 8 hours of sleep to develop and grow properly.
Don’t talk to Strangers
The internet is no different from your sidewalk. Its just much much larger. When I was a child my parents taught me a few rules
- Don’t talk to strangers
- Don’t take sweets from strangers
- Don’t take a ride from a stranger
The Cyber world is no different from the real world. Don’t accept friend requests from people who you don’t know. Definitely don’t meet people you don’t know. Teach your children this because they do not know that it is not safe.
Children need to be taught that to use manners on the internet. They should not be rude to someone on the internet that they would not treat that way in person.
Children’s right to privacy does not supersede a parents responsibility to ensure their safety. Most children do not like parents to know what they are doing online. You walk in to the room the screen gets switched off, the iPad suddenly disappears. A parent must know what is going on. When giving access to a device, you must warn your child that it is your duty to check what they are doing. It is your device and your bandwidth after all. If they don’t like the rules then they shouldn’t use your device. (I will write a post later with some suggested rules that a parent could implement.)
Parents must realise that the use of technology is a privilege and not a right.
Unfortunately at the end of the evening the speaker said, monitor your kids cellphones and the safest one is still BlackBerry. This really ruined the evening for me, as the speaker showed that the information was outdated and that the research had not been checked. No new filters have been developed for Blackberry for years whereas both Android and iOS have up to date apps that can be installed to monitor and filter children’s activities on the Internet and on their devices.
My final disappointment with the evening was when I received an email with links and notes from the lecture. Unfortunately the main reference in the talk has not posted a blog update since 2010. Really?? How up to date can all the information have been. I was exasperated and so upset when I received the email. Half the links did not even work. This is possibly why dealing with Child Safety and technology is so frustrating. Most of the people doing the podium talking are not qualified to do it.
Lesson I learnt
Check your facts. Make sure that what you are hearing or reading is true. Just because the person speaking has credentials of child psychologist or director of child welfare or similar, does not mean that they have actually prepared for the lecture. Solutions that are offered do not necessarily reflect the real solutions that are available.
The same rule applies to this blog. If are reading this post in a years time, unless you have a time travel machine, it is probably outdated and irrelevant. Always read the latest posts to make sure that the information is as accurate and useful as possible.
On a lighter note
I saw this article published today titled Ten things your parents will never learn about computers. While I laughed it does highlight some of the reasons why Internet security is such a big problem. Technology is really an integral part of children’s lives where as it has to be learnt by parent.
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