Children seem to be constantly connecting online. The digital arena is far greater than a traditional playground. Cyber Safety Lady Leonie Smith considers the impact and the issues.
This generation of children - older and younger seem adept at making digital connections. Most learn very quickly that they can connect and play with their friends through online games or message apps.
They can have continuing conversations and social time when they are anywhere. For some children it is very exciting to make new friends this way, particularly if they have difficulty making friends in their own area or school.
This has led to a new digital language. Kids have always had their own language and ‘code’ to communicate, it helps them to bond. Keyboards virtual or physical are harder to use than speaking so all of us simplify what we say when having to type.
Coming up with shortcuts in language is nothing new, but keyboards have made it even simpler to avoid keystrokes. Now kids are using these shortcuts and emoji’s when texting and speaking to each other. It’s like having a secret club. For example, ‘Sad Face’ is often said in speech to indicate not being happy which is derived from the sad face emoji.
ADAPT OR BE A DINOSAUR
Love it or hate it – the digital world is here to stay. If you fight the digital evolution you will lose. You need to balance both digital technology and non digital space.
Living life only through a screen is not healthy for anyone. If you allow your kids unfettered access to screens they may decide that’s where they feel most comfortable and may not want to venture outside at all.
Reversing this behaviour can be very difficult, so set your boundaries for screen time early in their life and reward kids for balanced screen time. Make sure your children maintain outside interests and other pursuits and friendships.
LEONIE’S TIPS TO ENCOURAGE ALL-ROUND CONNECTIONS:
- Encourage your child to maintain face-to-face social time with family and friends.
- Set some fair boundaries around how long they can communicate online with friends.
- Educate your child on appropriate use of message apps and communication.
- Make sure you ALWAYS know who your child is communicating with online.
- Don’t trust audio either, voice changers to impersonate a child are very commonly used to dupe kids and unwitting parents.
- Make sure your child is using their digital device in a common family room not alone in their room for supervision sake.
- Ensure that your child understands what an online stranger is and that they need to come and tell you if someone contacts them that they don’t know
- Delay allowing your child to be able to play online games or participate in social media until they meet the age requirements.
For keeping your kids safe online, visit:
The Cyber Safety Lady