Blog - Nursery Talk
Technology and Children: Keeping Them Safe From Each Other! – Julian Castle
Being a parent of two boys and working in information security, I know first-hand about the problems that come with exposing children (and adults) to technology.
Consequently, I decided to write this article as a parent to help other parents and provide answers to these commonly asked questions:
Should children have their own devices for accessing the internet?
Should you show young children how to use them?
What is the appropriate amount of screen time for children?
I have also delivered lectures in schools where I have been shocked about other parents approach to this subject. Like many other household objects, the internet can be used for education, but without supervision, a child could stumble upon content that simply does not belong in a family home.
First of all, when you set up a television, most of them automatically tune to the available list of stations, however, not many make it easy or prompt you to remove adult channels. They can also be connected to the Internet and the features to limit this are never easy to use or find.
The watershed protects children from viewing inappropriate content, but what do you do for children when the channels are not available, do you let them watch YouTube? Around an hour maximum of screen time is appropriate.
When I was little, computers were an expensive and frustrating luxury, games were extortionate and connecting anything to anything else was impossible. Nowadays, however, computers mean that any obscure knowledge is accessible and searchable allowing any parent to seek the answers for the barrage of questions young children can throw at you.
I would recommend that children are never left unsupervised with a computer or tablet and should never have their own device until you feel confident that you can monitor the sites they wish to access, prevent inappropriate advertising and any other content or communications not fit for their age group.
We should also educate our children and by telling them that what we consider appropriate in real life is also the same as it would be on the internet. If you would be embarrassed showing your boss or your Grandmother your emails and instant messages, then you may want to rethink what you share online.
I have yet to make my mind up regarding the age I would let my children have their own device, but you can be sure that when I do, the profiles or passwords will be shared to allow myself or my wife the chance to check that all is okay. We will also take steps to limit the applications (and the dreaded games) as well as the messaging and sharing of any information online.
There’s lots of advice that a parent can provide for children regarding how to choose a strong password, to use good judgement in choosing what to install on a device and what to join, when to take part in something online, as well as what to share. Often, the free applications are funded by advertising and the feeling that we’re missing out if we’re not involved in something can be all too tempting, however these can often be fads and we should always ensure that our children’s safety comes first.
I think it good reason that the minimum age for many social network sites is 13 and that is probably the minimum age we can start trusting our children with their own decisions.