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Parenting in a Tech World

The next generation of kids are growing up surrounded by an information overload. There are screens and devices everywhere, and it's hard to know where to start managing and supervising all this information.


parenting in a tech world

My kids are only 5 and 7 and already the eldest is asking when she can have a mobile phone.


I said when she was 30.


I dislike tech immensely. It sucks the fun out of life in just about every conceivable way. Conversations 'down the pub' rarely go off on interesting tangents as any question is immediately answered. The debate is dead. It's impossible to have a conversation with someone who is also in the middle of a Whatsapp chat. If there is a screen on in a restaurant or bar, it automatically leads the eye to it, and whatever inane nonsense is on it.


Age Appropriate

What age should a child have a mobile phone? In my head, I think 12 seems about right. A phone can afford a kid loads more independence which is so crucial to their successful and rounded mental development, and also provides the social chat with their buddies after homework is done. A phone used in the right way can be a source for good. But how on earth do you ensure that happens?


For me as a parent, the phone is about safety.


Back in my day(!) we had phone boxes, so when we had finished hanging out and setting fire to things, we could pop a 10 pence piece in the 'box and you had a lift home, or request a sleepover should it be a Friday or Saturday. A mobile phone affords this generation that same luxury without having to step food in a urine infested sweat box.


It's crucial to note that not all phones were created equal. Nokia was famous for the nearly indestructible 3310. This was the phone that my friends and I all had. It could make and receive calls, it could send messages (although only store about 20 if I remember correctly) and you could also play 'snake' if you missed your last train home. I was also researching these little beauties. It a wrist watch phone that you don't need a mortgage to afford. Some can accept messages, but most can simply send and receive calls. Beautiful in their simplicity. The TikTok 4 has a video screen too, but I don't think that's entirely necessary.

Parenting in a tech world

So is this the answer for the best communication tool for your kid? It doesn't have the internet, so it's impossible for your kids to dive into a seedy chat room with a 50 year old man named Bryan pretending to be a 13 year old girl. It doesn't have a camera and it can't receive 'dick pics' from that particularly obnoxious school friend.


But perhaps that's the Nokia's downside. Not the dick pics, but the social aspect. As a parent I'm always assuming the worst. Perhaps the kids just want to chat to their buddies. Perhaps they're not just itching to get a 'device' to research BDSM and horse porn.


I know first hand there is a real pressure on parents to ensure their kids do not feel left out. I have it at the moment with earrings. Perhaps there needs to be an agreement amongst parents for the age at which a kid can have a smart phone, so that one kids in school doesn't come in aged 9 with one and ruin it for the rest of us!


The world has moved on a lot in the 30 years since I was a wee one, and so has how people communicate with one another. This technology isn't going away. If our kids are going to have iPads, smart phones and access to the internet, what are our options?


YouTube

I reserve a special place in hell for YouTube. It's a wonderful source of information about fixing door handles or which de-slimer to use on a terrarium, but it also contains truly vacuous content. My kids adore watching these early 20 somethings teaching how to smuggle candy into school. And 'hacks'. And they could watch this crap for hours. It turns them into zombies. So, we as parents obviously need top set limits and also monitor what they watch. There are some tricks to help with this...

In YouTube on your phone:

  1. Open the app then click your member icon on the top right.

  2. Select Settings

  3. Select General

  4. Select Restricted Mode.


Youtube on your laptop/ desktop.

  1. Open YouTube.com and make sure you're signed in.

  2. Click your member icon on the top right of the screen

  3. Select Settings

  4. Click that Restricted Mode button.


General smart phone locking down

  1. BARK - Seems to be the industry standard at locking screen time, locking down app downloads, monitoring usage etc.

  2. FamilyTime - Pretty much the same as BARK, but has the slightly more creepy tracking function.

Ultimately we need to educate our kids about the dangers of the world, whether online or not. As they grow and develop they need to be armed with the mental and physical skills to tackle physical and cyber bullying, creepy men on both the street and online and they should know an age-appropriate amount about sexual education. Hiding something from a child will only push a child to search harder for information and not always in the most appropriate way. We as parents can be the gate keepers of information and drop it out where necessary. Parenting is hard, bit it's our responsibility to keep the little dudes safe!





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