With the growing use of technology and the rapid pace of change, a natural question arises for all parents, teachers and child carers:

How can I support my child/student? 

Parents and educational institutions should accept that it is pointless to block access to websites, apps etc. That would be a fruitless exercise and would not teach responsibility, independence nor would it be educating young minds.  Children will normally find a way to circumvent any software or device that restricts access and as often happens, are the ‘experts’ and parents tend to be the ‘digital immigrants’.

The key is to educate, communicate, have open discussions about everything, even the most awkward of topics (such as porn, drugs etc) and make children feel that they can approach us with difficult situations. Combined with some common sense ‘checks’, this seems to be the best way forward. With all this in mind, we need to have faith in children to make the right choices.

Some of the aforementioned common sense tips (and software) included:

  • Role model the type of behaviour we expect from our children with respect to the use of technology (e.g. no phones at the dinner table, restricted usage of phones when outside etc)
  • Educational institutions should minimise any firewalls and normally this would include blocking access to porn websites.  Instead rely on strong programmes that educate children with the use of technology and digital citizenship
  • Parents should share information with each other, constantly collaborating. Schools should be happy to receive information and distribute it to its community
  • Watch movies with children that relate to both the benefits and dangers of technology. Allow children to reflect, often with the right choice of movie, no discussion is even needed
  • Use of Apple Family Sharing to restrict what apps are downloaded (Snapchat and Ask are often raised as concerns due to the anonymous user settings), track childrens’ location and various other benefits.
  • Use of Windows 10 to monitor internet usage and create scheduled reports. Apple iOS has similar functionality built within it.

With education, mature conversations and the right amount of trust, responsibility, and discussion, we can all use technology to our advantage.  Do not let technology be the dividing factor between you and your child/student.

Yasir Patel

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