Screen Time for Kids and Digital Technology

E-Safety and Screen Time for Kids

At Affordable Computer Repairs and Service, we understand the increasing internet usage within the household and by children. This article addresses the importance of understanding new technology. It also provides some advice on how to ensure your kids are safe on the internet.

What is E-Safety?

E-safety means keeping people safe while using the internet and making people more aware of the dangers on the internet. E-safety for kids concerns protecting children from the dangers of the Internet. This includes dangers like inappropriate content, joining unsuitable chat rooms, downloading things without permission, cyberbullying and the like.

Schools also have rules and contracts that students must agree to. Accepting the rules of internet use at school enables student’s access, so a chat with your local school may also assist you with your search for more information.

E-Safety Information For Parents

Become familiar with how people can access the internet. The home computer is not the only way our children can be online. Mobile phones, laptops, tablets, TVs and gaming systems like the X-Box all can connect to the internet. Talking with your children about both the benefits and risks of the internet can empower them to be able to make informed choices when unexpected issues arise. Children should be educated on how to use the internet safely and responsibly.

Learn the rules for using social media sites and online gaming communities. Many of these sites are governed by age limits and children under 13 are often not permitted to join these communities. There are often other more age-appropriate sites with content that is aimed at the correct age bracket. These are a safer option for your child.

Library Information

Local libraries in your area may also provide free courses on internet usage and may assist you in your quest for more information. Being a competent and capable internet user can empower you to know the risks and benefits of online usage for your own children. You can be a role model for them and learn to enjoy and participate in online experiences with your children.

Changing Pace Of Technology

By increasing your own skills, you can try and keep up with the changing pace of technology. You will be able to help support your children as they grow, ensuring they are responsible internet users. New services inevitably evolve as your children grow. One service or site might be useful for the current age and participation level of your child now. But you can be assured this will change, just as your child develops increased skills and knowledge. Knowing how to engage the internet yourself, to keep pace with new features and products as they become available, is a powerful tool for savvy parents making sure they are on top of e-safety for kids.

Should Children Be Allowed Access To The Internet?

Today’s children have access to so much technology through computers, laptops, tablets and mobile devices. Website content and gaming, YouTube clips and social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest are commonly accessed by children in our homes, at school and whilst out and about with friends.

Parents should provide their children with the ability to explore and navigate the internet safely. Having some rules for use and an understanding between yourself and your child can go a long way to ensure e-safety for kids and a safe online experience.

Rules of Internet Use
  • Be aware of the risks of age-inappropriate content, cyber-bullying and privacy issues.
  • Investigate products available which can be downloaded or purchased and installed on computers and laptops which can provide some protection from harmful content and allow you to set up access limits.
  • Install anti-virus software and discuss the issues around downloading files from various sources and the implications these may have on the computer/laptop.
  • Set up user time limits and age access limits to specific sites and games, chats and file-sharing capabilities.
  • Investigate privacy settings within apps and other downloaded content. Ensure you are vigilant in protecting the identity and location of your child.
  • Talk to your child about content they may come across that may make them feel uncomfortable. Provide instructions on what to do if this occurs.
  • Explain what action your child should take if they encounter a problem or concern. Who should they seek assistance from? What do you expect they should do and how should they react?
  • Discuss rules about providing personal information online, uploading photos and completing online forms and accepting friend requests.
  • Explain the implications of providing sensitive and personal information online. An age-appropriate discussion of the benefits and risk of online usage can empower your children to be critical thinkers. It will also encourage them to help their friends make similar safe and responsible choices when participating in online usage.

What Is Too Much Screen Time For Kids?

Schools increasingly provide access to technology. Computers, laptops and tablets are commonplace in today’s classrooms. Children are learning how to use the web; word-processing and even coding has entered the curriculum. Homework can be set through web-based learning platforms. Older students are using the internet for research purposes. Children access games, online video content, social media and TV in their free time. They also access mobile phones and tablets to keep them occupied whilst their parents are busy. Tuition services offer additional support via computer-based programs to students struggling with the Curriculum through digital technology.

It is, therefore, no surprise to find that a recent study by BioMed Central reported that 45% of eight years old exceeded the daily limit, climbing to 80% for the 15 to 16-year-old. The study surmised that screen-based media is so central to the lives of young people in today’s society the “daily limits” are no longer rational.

Should Parents Limit Children’s Daily Use Of Digital Technology?

The Department of Health recommends a screen time limit of;

  • No more than 1 hour a day for children aged 2 – 5 years
  • Nor more than 2 hours a day for children aged 5 – 17 years

Screen Time includes online computer games, watching video content, accessing websites, using apps and watching TV. Whilst these limits on screen time is prescribed by paediatricians and child development experts, studies suggest that school-aged children are spending an increasing amount of time online.

Should Babies/Toddlers Be Allowed To Use Technology?

Does your baby/toddler use an iPad or mobile phone? Do you use technology as a babysitter? What are the pros and cons of babies and toddler use of technology? The accelerating use of technology by babies and toddlers in Australia and overseas is causing concern for health professionals and educators alike. So how common is it?

The Australian Government Department of Health in their publication National Physical Activity Recommendations for Children (0-5 years) provides recommendations for physical activity levels for babies and toddler. It also recommends the amount (or not) that these children should engage in the use of technology.

One point stands out. The Department of Health clearly states the recommendation that toddlers and babies (under the age of two) “Should not spend any time watching television or using other electronic media (DVDs, computer and other electronic games).

Positive Outcomes
Fine Motor Skills Development

Playing with an iPad by toddlers and even babies help develop dexterity of fingers and eye and hand coordination.

Cause and Effect

Children can learn through technology at a very young age the concept of cause and effect. When pressing different buttons or swiping technology, it allows them to gain a measure of control and enjoyment.

Negative Outcomes
Replacement of Personal Interaction

With babies and toddlers spending a considerable amount of time using technology, they are spending less time interacting with peers, adults and older children. This human interaction is essential for their development of social skills.

External Learning

Technology replaces a toddler’s opportunity to experience playing and experimenting with physical objects such as blocks, sandpit etc. This reduces their important hands-on learning of the world around them.

Reduction in Physical Activity

Time spent on technology replaces time spent in physical activities. Toddlers and babies risk the reduction in the necessary muscle development and development of gross motor skills, balance and flexibility etc.

Over Stimulation

Too much time spent playing on technology can result in babies and toddlers becoming overwhelmed by the sensory effects, the noise, change in colour and continuous motion. A short-term result may be that your child becomes frustrated, angry and upset causing temper tantrums. A longer-term result can be that their ability to focus on quieter activities is severely reduced as their attention span is shortened.

Bad Habits

Bad habits are easily achieved, breaking bad habits is far harder. If from a very young age and continued through their growth years children spend a great deal of time in sedentary use of technology this can lead to increased use as they get older and a very difficult habit to break.

Internet Usage By Australian Children

The latest available data is provided as of April 2012. A summary of ownership of mobile phones and usage of the internet by Australian children is provided below. These statistics were derived from the article “Australian Children, Internet and Mobile Phones” from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Internet Usage Statistics
  • By April 2012 90% of Australian children had accessed the internet during the previous year.
  • The rate of access by Australian children to the internet has been rapid. In 2006, the proportion of Australian children who accessed the internet in the previous year was only 65%. This increased to 79% in 2009; and as stated above to 90% in 2012. This does not mean, however, that Aussie children are not doing other activities and gaining other experiences.
  • In 2012, 66% of all Australian children had participated in at least one organised sport. Furthermore, 99% participated in a minimum of one recreational activity. Recreational activities included amongst other things, bike riding, arts and crafts and reading for pleasure.
  • Older children have greater access to the internet with 98% of children 12 to 14 years accessing the internet. This compared to 96% for those aged 9 to 11 years. A much lower rate of 79% for those aged 5 to 8 years was reported.
  • Access to the internet was slightly lower in the more remote areas of Australia, 88% compared with 91% in the major Australian cities.
  • Children in general in 2012 had fairly equally access the internet from home and at school. Importantly for those children accessing the internet at home 90% did so for educational activities.
  • Far more children accessed the internet by laptop or another portable computer (78%) than from a desktop (59%). Just under 30% used a mobile phone to access the internet.  Other devices were only used by 4% of children.

Where Can I Get More Information?

There are many websites and agencies tasked at providing E-safety resources for parents when it comes to protecting their children online. The Australian Government has a wealth of information available to parents through their iParent website. This website includes education programs and videos available to you. Additionally, the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner provides up to date resources and a complaints system for reporting cyberbullying and illegal online content. E-safety for children can also be available through organisations like the Alannah and Madeline Foundation. They have programs like the Digital License. These types of programs can assist parents with computer safety issues, discussions and rules.

Keeping your children safe in this digital world is an ongoing learning experience for all involved. Take some time to investigate how your children use digital devices and what you can do to ensure it is a positive experience for them.

 

This article on E-safety is provided by Affordable Computer Repairs Brisbane, your local computer repair experts. Please feel free to contact us on 3397 1215 or 0409 974 707 if your children have internet access difficulties or with any computer-related inquiries. We offer many IT and repair services. We can assist you in your own home or at our workshop at 48 Octantis Street, Coorparoo.

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