Apps - and new technology
As I pack away the last of the Christmas decorations and the remnants of festive cheer slowly fade away, I am left with the annual problem of trying to find homes for my childrens’ new toys and gadgets. Fortunately, as my children grow ever older, the gifts get ever smaller, but yes, far more expensive!.
Top of my children’s gifts this year was a smart phone for my daughter (about to head off to Senior School next year, so we are training her up!). Once I had got over the reality that Sylvanian Family and Lego were a purchasing option of the past, I turned my thoughts to setting up the phone.
I am a firm believer that access is a good thing; that we should provide it for our children and that we should stay actively involved in our children’s accounts, profiles and their often-confusing and ever-changing digital experiences.
Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat are not apps that I would necessarily use. I am aware though that my daughter, armed with her new phone, will spend at least 100% of her time using these, time for me to ‘get with the kids’ and modernise! Whilst setting up my daughter’s accounts, (and yes I know about the 13+ sign up rules for these apps/sites), I ensure that I turn on privacy options, close down accounts to restrict her profile to a friends-only approach, and sign myself up at the same time. You can guess who my daughter’s first friend request was! I ensure that my daughter is aware of what I am doing, why I’m doing it and what the consequences could be if it wasn't done. This has always been the culture in my household and I generally don’t get too much resistance. Does is worry me to have my daughter enter this world? Yes! I considered moving to a remote Scottish isle for a while then accepted that it’s happening, and it also turns out that most of the Islands have wifi anyway!
I am also very aware that she will make mistakes. I just hope that through a consistent approach to e-safety guidance these mistakes will be minimal. I have learnt that a non-reactive approach is crucial. To become outraged and ban everything remotely digital from her doesn’t solve the issue and will inevitably encourage her to go into ‘stealth’ mode with her app usage.
The internet is most definitely my friend when it comes to upskilling my e-safety. www.familylives.org.uk has some great advice and some excellent forums where many topical issues are discussed.