Rather than simply taking the device away or setting rules, make it a two-way discussion. Most children will have some experience of classmates or peers with screen addiction. Be open about the dangers and why screen time needs to be controlled, and discuss how these devices can and should be used outside the classroom.
There are plenty of ways to take the games and characters children know out of their digital form and make them real. Simple games like Angry Birds can be played in real life with a simple slingshot and empty cans or boxes as targets. Why not have children draw their favourite characters, or make their costumes and recreate the game?
If they’re going to use apps, find ones that require movement and a connection to the natural world. Star gazing apps are a great way to get kids excited about the night sky, and plant and animal identification apps will stimulate their curiosity about the world.
Parents need to lead by example. Not allowing your children to do something while you do it yourself is unlikely to be well received. Adults are in just as much danger of becoming screen-obsessed as their offspring, and children certainly don’t want to feel they are competing with a phone or computer for their parents’ attention.
Make sure that certain times, such as meal times, are tech-free all round: everybody leaves their phones and tablets in a different room, the TV is switched off, and the family eats and talks together.
Use the parental controls to block or filter internet content: Operating systems all have built-in parental controls and you can set restrictions in your browser to filter the content your children can access.
Knowing what your child is watching, websites they are browsing, who they are calling and the texts they are sending is essential to keep your children safe.
Here are some suggestions on the most up-to-date software and websites to help you.
Circle with Disney: www.meetcircle.com
This device recognises and manages every wired and wireless device on your home network.
K9 Web Protection: www1.k9webprotection.com
Set time limits, block websites, safe web searches, get reports.
Net Nanny: www.netnanny.com
Parental control and internet web filtering software.
Cost: US$9 per device
Norton Family: www.family.norton.com
Parental control, monitoring and time supervision.
Cost: US$49.99 per year
Net Aware: www.net-aware.org.uk
Advice to parents on the Apps and social networks your kids want to download.
Safe web searching platform powered by Google.
Helps parents monitor their childs’ activity including texts, photos, calls, website history, gps history.
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