Helping your children develop safe and productive online routines
Young children take to modern technology so naturally, it can almost seem they were born knowing how to use any device. From the moment they are able to hold a phone or tablet, they seem to instinctively know how to operate it, and are often soon racing ahead of their parents. Touchscreen devices are so user friendly, and the operating systems and apps have such intuitive interfaces, children are often able to learn without any adult help at all.
Even though they may take to devices with ease, children will still benefit from guidance when it comes to hardware and software, along with the range of websites and applications on offer. The following is a list of skills that children would certainly benefit from adopting at an early age.
1. Keyboard and mouse skills
Many children grow up so used to interacting with technology via a touchscreen, they fail to acquire competence with the traditional keyboard and mouse until they are older. Good typing skills are extremely useful, and the younger the child the faster they will gain mastery over the keyboard. The same goes from competence using a mouse. Of course the touchpad can be used to move the arrow around the screen, but no device can match the precision of a mouse when it comes to intricate screen work. Any kind of creative work with graphics or 3d rendering - using programmes such as photoshop or blender - will require the use of a mouse.
2. Keyboard shortcuts
Learning keyboard shortcuts are another great skillset to acquire at a young age. Who knows how many hours of computer time someone with a comprehensive Keyboard shortcut ability saves over the course of their lifetime? Most peoples` knowledge in this regard extends no further than control-F (search), or control-alt-delete (terminate a non responsive application). There are in fact well over a hundred shortcut keys on most operating systems, but just learning twenty or thirty of them will be of great benefit; and of course the younger one starts building up this skillset, the easier it is to master.
3. Adopting Good posture
This one may sound a little strange, but its importance really cannot be overstated. It`s estimated that some 80% of workers employed in sedentary office jobs will sped around 90,000 hours sitting in from of their computer - so good posture is absolutely vital. Poor seating posture can, over time, lead to neck, back and shoulder pain, with increased risk of injury to all these areas. Ensuring the screen is positioned at the correct hight is of paramount importance, as this will affect the positioning of your neck, back and shoulders. This applies to desktop computers, as well as smartphones and tablets. Being hunched over a screen placed flat on a table will cause you to arch your back, bend your neck and round your shoulders - a posture that can, over time, lead to a host of associated health complications.
4. Good internet browsing practices
The internet is of course a wonderful learning resource. The single largest repository of information in world, an astonishing 330 million terabytes are created and added to it each day. With the internet now being the first place most people go to for research, communication, and entertainment, and with Britons now estimated to spend more than 22 years of their life online (according to a study carried out by NordVPN in 2021) good online practices are vital. Children should have familiarity with a range of browsers, such as Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari. They should also know how to protect themselves online, understand the importance of using different passwords for different websites and applications, and be aware they should never share personal information.
Along with these important skills, there are patterns of behaviour you can model for children, good practices of interacting with technology which will ensure they remain safe and happy while online.
- Stress the importance of `screen free` times - periods where no one in the family is allowed to be online. This could be Saturday mornings, or whenever you go for a day out, or perhaps an hour before bedtime. This will help children discover and embrace other forms of entertainment and creativity, such as reading and drawing.
- Teach your children to be as polite online as they are offline. Many children (as well as adults) can forget that the person they are interacting with online is a living breathing human being, who possesses feelings just as they do. This lack of awareness and empathy can permit even the most considerate child to say hurtful things online. By reminding children that their online behaviour can cause pain to others, the internet can be a safer place for everyone.
- Let your children know that everyone has to be cautious online. The internet can be dangerous for adults as well as children. If they see you behaving carelessly, sharing your passwords with others, or revealing too much personal information on social media, they are likely to replicate this behaviour.
The internet holds risks for adults as well as children, and every parent wants to be sure their child is safe. Of course this can be difficult when the entire internet is open to them. Here are a few tips that will help you ensure your child gets the best out of their online experience.
- Be aware of what your child is doing online.
- Ensure you know just who your child is contacting online. Are they visiting chatrooms? Who are the people they are messaging?
- Make sure you know the recommended age limits on certain games and apps they are using. Many of them can be violent and graphic, and have age restrictions for a reason.Let your child be aware that anything they post online can remain there forever, and there could be consequences in the future if they post something offensive.
- Encourage your child to tell you if they encounter something online that upsets them. It`s important your child feels they can come to you if they have a bad experience online.