New advice has just been issued for parents, warning them about their children using an app called “musical.ly”. The week before it was “Kik” and last month it was “Vine”. Next month it will be a different app. I am not sure I can keep up. But then I am old and therefore untrendy, so if I understand it / use it / like it / think its useful, then you can bet your bottom dollar that kids won’t like it. In fact, once I discussed an app with some pupils and it was the kiss of death for its popularity.
All apps can be dangerous if used recklessly, so instead of trying to keep up and coming up with rules for each new app, I think we should focus on the basics:
- if there is an age guidance for the app, there normally is a reason. Be aware. Talk this through with the child.
- set privacy up correctly, do this with them.
- only communicate with people they know ( really know)
- parents talk to children about the app / site
- parents discuss challenging topics that may have come up, you can’t hide them from everything but at least they can get the truth from you. They will also get images / words and content from MTV and the news. Open communication is key.
- get children talk to parents about what they are doing
- parents set up ground rules ie, only allowed on this app downstairs or only allow ipads to be used in open rooms
- think about what they are sharing, what would your Grandma say if she saw it
- if they post it, then there is the possibility that ANYONE can see it
- not everyone is nice, so block them if they are making you feel sad or uncomfortable
- limit the amount of apps and time ( for wellbeing)
- don’t be unkind online and in life
- only share what they have permission to share
- don’t share personal information
- set a credit card cap on the game
The language may be complicated and the pace of technology can be scary but the relationships between child and parent is the same. If we talk and communicate, then hopefully we can help the child be safe in any situation. So when that new app is invented and no one has written guidelines, we have given the children enough guidance and support not to put themselves in an unsafe situation.