In the past few years, Ipads, Ipod touches and other tablet devices have given children the ability to text, talk, and surf the web younger than ever before. Children as young as 5 and 6 are using electronic tablets and Ipod Touches to not only play games, but also to take pictures, make videos as well as face-time and send texts using apps such as text-free or text-plus. These devices are opening a whole new world to children, but parents must be aware of how their children are using these devices and also create rules to ensure the children are using this technology safely and appropriately. As a teacher, I have put together a list of guidelines that may help your family create rules about the use of technology in the home.
Technology Guidelines For Children:
Texting: Set specific hours and times that texting may take place. For example, texting is allowed after school until 7pm. Phones, ipods and tablets need to be turned off at night. Be nice with texts. You may not send mean messages or use texting to talk about other people in a mean way. Remember, if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all-this rule applies to texting, too!
No texting times: No texting during dinner and family time, and no texting during homework time. Parents need to also follow these rules and model appropriate behavior such as not texting while driving.
Videos/Photos: No sending videos or photos without permission. This helps children understand that they cannot just send anything to anyone. Children may think it is funny to take a picture of a friend in an awkward position and then send it on to a friend, but may not realize that the picture can then be sent to many more people or even posted on the web.
Facetiming/Skyping: Ask a parent before facetiming or video chatting with a friend. Remember, when we Skype or Facetime we invite another person into our home. We need to be sure that our house is “open for visitors.”
Internet: Ask permission before searching on the web. This includes Googling and searching on You Tube. It is best to keep the family computer in a central location to monitor what your children are viewing on-line. Limit use of wireless devices behind closed doors. If your child has an Ipad or Ipod you can go to the Apple store or call Apple customer service to have certain restrictions put on their device to prevent them from looking at inappropriate websites.
You Tube: Tell mom or dad before going on this site. It has become popular for kids to post on You Tube and other similar sites. You may want to limit this or make it a “no” item in your house. A similar rule can be applied to Facebook or other social media sites even those geared to younger children such as Club Penguin.
Account sign up: Do not sign up for anything, give emails or other personal information to any site on line. Do not order apps or other software without permission. Children learn emails and passwords quickly. It is important to explain to them the danger of giving out personal information or typing personal information into the computer. They may not understand that this information can be used by other people to do harm.
Technology has grown dramatically in the past few years and our children have access to many wonderful devices; however, this new technology is presenting a whole new parenting issue. Parents need to be aware of how their children are using these devices and help them to understand the dangers as well as the benefits.