A recent study by the Gonski Institute for Education found from the 5,000+ children across Australia, more than 4 in 5 children own at least one screen-based device that belongs to them.
Personal ownership of devices starts from a young age of four, and on average each child owns three devices. How times have changed!
In our modern digital-first world, it’s no surprise 80% of parents believe that children need to be skilled in digital media and technologies to succeed in life. However, more than half of parents primarily allowed their children to use digital technology for entertainment value compared to just one in five for predominately learning purposes.
Children aged 2 to 6 are spending on average 26 hours per week looking at screens, while children 6-13 are spending an average of 31.5 hours, according to a survey commissioned by The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne back in 2017. At these rate, figuratively speaking they’d be earning $528.58 and $640.40 per week based on the national minimum wage.
Screen time captures all time spent looking at a screen, this can include TVs, computers, smartphones, tablets, and video consoles. Anecdotally screen time is likely to have escalated considerably during the pandemic.
Like many things in life there are pros and cons. Early use of digital technology has been linked to improving language skills and promote children’s creativity. On the flip side, the risk of coming across inappropriate content and cyber bullying is real.
How to keep kids safe?
You can’t look over your kid’s shoulder 24/7 so teaching them some basic rules to follow is a must.
When it comes to something new or unfamiliar, always ask your parents first! Maybe it’s a new game they see their friends playing or a new YouTuber they’re following. By getting them to ask first, as parents, you can assess whether it is appropriate for them.
Only talk to people you know. A lot of games have chat functions, via text or speech, and sites like YouTube allow you to leave public comments. All of a sudden, your child could be exposed to someone halfway across the world, and there’s no guarantee it’s just another innocent little kid on the other end.
Stick to agreed sites or apps. Agree with your kids what sites or apps they are allowed on, and if they are unsure, circle back to rule 1.
On top of these basic rules, it’s important to teach children about protecting their personal information and what not to share publicly. Private information such as their full name, address, email, school, sporting teams they play for, basically any information that will make them trackable in real life.
Finally, instead of letting your child go online by themselves in their room, get them to play or watch somewhere you can see and listen in periodically.
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