I'm one of those mum's who swore my kids would never spend hours glued to an ipad. I imagined fun filled evenings sitting around the kitchen table eating organic vegetables, and laughing about the days events. Well, things dont always go according to plan.
Most days, my eldest, who has Asperger's syndrome – rushes home from school, and spends up to an hour playing Minecraft on his tablet. My youngest will spend the time watching PJ Masks on his Sky Kids app, then we'll all sit at the table to eat chicken nuggets and chips, because I know they'll eat it without a fuss.
Wayne will attempt to discuss his day at work, and I'll ask how school went. The boys will mutter “It was okay” before droning on and on about the latest 'Stampy Cat' video ( a Youtuber who makes videos about gaming ).
I try to set limits, and at ages 5 and 7, I am winning the 'screen time' battle, just about. I got a shock last week, however, when I attended an Internet Safety workshop at St.Paul's Junior school in Shepton Mallet. While the legal age for a child to have a social networking account, like Facebook or Snapchat is 13.
It's estimated that almost 50% of 11 year olds are using social media, and two thirds of 5 – 7 year olds go online for one reason or another. This leaves them vulnerable to seeing inappropriate content, making contact with strangers, being lured into sexting, or becoming a victim of cyberbullying.
Tuesday 7th February is 'Internet Safety Day'. Most schools will be running workshops , and sending home information with their students. Make sure you discuss it with your child.
You can get a lot of information, and age appropriate videos at www.saferinternet.org.uk or www.childnet.com . A great magazine called 'Digital Parenting' is available from www.vodafone.com/parents It includes tips on how to set strong passwords, change parental settings on tablets, laptops and games consoles – and also gives tips on how digital technology can be used to encourage and document 'real life' activities.
We often make YouTube videos of our boys learning new skills, or upload animations that they've created. We even used Minecraft to engage our son with his dreaded Maths homework.
The internet is an amazing resource, and who hasn't 'asked Google' to help answer children's questions! The key is to be one step ahead, a cool 'cyber-savy' parent...or at least try.
AS PUBLISHED IN LOCAL WORLD MEDIA - SOMERSET
"Shepton Mallet Journal ", "Wells Journal " "Central Somerset Gazette" and "Cheddar Gazette"
"Family Life Column" p.22
I'm a 43 year old, mum of two little boys- currently living in Shepton Mallet in Somerset. I'm the Founder and Creative Director of Radio Shepton, a Stand up and comedian and spoken word performer, and write a regular column for The Wells and Shepton Mallet Journal. Which is the basis for my blog usually. I lived in Swedish Lapland for 7 years until 2014 where my boys were born. My partner and I ran a husky dog sledding business. Before that I was a poet, radio presenter, media lecturer, writer, TV producer, actress and burlesque performer ! I never want my life to be boring :)