Tech Savvy Parent

Does your child have a cellphone, tablet or ipad? Is it a prerequisite at your child’s school? Social media is here to stay and it’s only natural to worry about how you can keep your child safe online.

So how familiar are you with the social media apps your children can access? Educate yourself about what’s available and establish good ground rules from the start.

Online mobile apps available:

Age restrictions appear in brackets.

Facebook (13)              Instagram (13)       

Snapchat (13)              Twitter (13) 

Tumblr (13)                   Whatsapp (16)     

Qooh.me (-)                  YouTube (16)           

to mention a few. The list is growing all the time.

These apps can become addictive and precious time will be wasted daily if some restrictions and controls are not put in place from early on.

Do you know…

• Your child’s password?

• What the age restriction is for the mobile apps they have?

• How many followers your child has and is following on Instagram?

• How many friends your child has on Facebook – and who they are?

• What friends your child has on Snapchat?

1. Draw up a contract between you and your child when they first get a phone. Make sure they understand your rules clearly, so there is no doubt about any of them. Be consistent. Once decided upon, they should be non-negotiable. (These can be reviewed as they get older.)

2. Decide on a place in the house where cell phones can be charged overnight. Google: A Sample of a Cell Phone Contract for Parents and Tweens for some ideas. Never allow this to be done in a child’s bedroom. This rule should also apply to friends that stay over.

3. Limit the number of apps your child is allowed to access.

4. Monitor your child’s phone on a regular basis.

5. Don’t allow cell phones to intrude on quality family time.

6. Show good cell phone behaviour yourself which your child can model.

7. Have constant discussions with your child about cell phone issues. Security, responsibility, cyber bullying, sexting, online strangers, cell phone etiquette etc

Popular apps used by younger children:

Instagram: (13) Users take and share pictures and videos. Photos can be altered.  Parents need to supervise. Set privacy settings to only allow friends they know to see images. Turn off the Geo-location feature.

Snapchat: (13 ) – Users send photos and videos. Images ‘disappear’ once viewed. Some children are using Snapchat to sext.  Children may think photos disappear forever but a screenshot can be taken and the image can go viral.

Qooh Me! (No age restriction!) This addictive app enables users, of all ages, to ask one another questions anonymously. (There is no age restriction or privacy settings!) Parental supervision required!

For further reading: Tech Savvy Parenting Book 

by Nikki Bush.

Keep abreast of what’s out there and don’t miss talks on this topic by Emma Sadleir.

We live in a world where technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace – the modern home is full of numerous internet-enabled gadgets such as smartphones, smart TV’s, tablets, laptops, computers, and gaming consoles that were unheard of just a few years ago, all of which pose a potential threat to the safety of your child if left unchecked. How do parents cope with this technology onslaught in their homes? How do you safeguard your children in the digital realm when they are often more tech-savvy than you are? Mark Khury of Virtuenet shares some practical yet highly effective tips to get you started.

Protecting the Internet “Gateway” of Your Home

This is by far the most important step you can take towards ensuring a safe online environment for your family, and can be achieved by installing a physical “firewall” type device on your home network such as the Family Zone Box (www.familyzone.com). This will ensure that all devices connected to the home network are protected around the clock.

Off-Network Protection for Mobile Devices

As mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets are used outside of the home, steps must be taken to secure these devices as well. This typically involves a software app to be downloaded and installed on the phone. Some apps are only a Safe Browser while others can also block or allow specific apps or device features to be used. Again I recommend the Mobile Zone app by Family Zone which is an excellent fully-featured app with real-time alerts and they offer a fully integrated protection solution that protects your child no matter where they are – at school, at home, or anywhere between.

Parents often ask me – “which is the safest phone for my child?” Personally I would recommend Apple iPhone because it has built-in restrictions that can be enabled. These allow parents to disable to default browser (Safari) thereby forcing the use of the Safe Browser app, as well as blocking access to the App Store which prevents children from installing new apps that you are unaware of.

Another tip I give parents is to only allow apps that are absolutely necessary and that you approve of and block or uninstall everything else, as opposed to allowing your child to install a plethora of apps and then trying to figure out which ones could be potentially harmful. I also recommend that parents read the following books, “Tech-Savvy Parenting” by Nikki Bush and “Digital Cocaine” by Brad Huddleston. These will help educate and equip parents with regard to their children’s online safety.

We are also working with local Internet Service Providers whereby similar protection features as mentioned above will be linked to your home or mobile internet connection with the protection being offered at service provider level (and not requiring any devices or apps to be installed) – this should hopefully become available within the next few months and parents are welcome to contact me for more information.

 

Mark Khoury E: markk@virtuenet.co.za W: www.virtuenet.co.za

POINTS TO PONDER!

  • What is the difference between half a line of Cocaine and an hour playing a Video game?

– Nothing, as far as your brain is concerned.

 

  • What can you do to be effective at Multi tasking?

– Nothing, as far as your brain is concerned.

 

  • What do Digital Devices in the classroom contribute to Focus and Concentration?

– Nothing, as far as your brain is concerned.

 

In ‘Digital Cocaine,’ Brad Huddleston, will replace your confusion, hesitancy and fear, as it relates to the digital world – with the facts that can make you and your family safer and more secure.

 

Whether it is the decline in grades, cyberbullying, pornography or gaming, we will get a look inside our wonderfully designed brains, to understand how it interacts with the exploding world of digital communication – and how you can keep your family safe.

 

Your smartphone, tablet and computer can be powerful tools to help you…or not. The choice is yours. ‘Digital Cocaine’ gives you the power to make that choice.

 

Available in Book and DVD format.

 

Contact Julia Knowler to get your copy

Keeping tabs on young children with so many opportunities for them to get onto social media, is always a concern for today’s parents. Andrew Bath, IT specialist, gives parents some tips on how to avoid the pitfalls.

 

  1. Screen time and how do I control it?

As one researcher noted “It’s simply too late to ‘put the digital genie back in the bottle,’.

Children are going to spend time on some form of digital screen and current research in the UK indicates that some screen time for your kids is not all bad. Encouraging and selecting the right content of screen time is key. There is a vast selection of educational content and apps to help develop young minds. If you want better control over their screen time and content, take a look at www.ourpact.com

 

  1. Android or Apple ?

Parents are bombarded with a large selection of brands, with the most common choice being either an Android (e.g. Samsung) or an Apple device. There are some key differences which might assist you when making a choice.

  • Android – has a far greater range of devices with various price points. Therefore has a

greater choice when shopping on a budget. Repairs are often cheaper. The Play Store also has a great variety of apps as there is less control over the submission of apps. However

this can also be a “bad” thing as apps with malicious codes can make their way into the store.

  • Apple – has a very tight, closed ecosystem which ensures all the apps in its app store are controlled and vetted. You are able to

implement controls on the phone/device to limit access to various functions i.e. disable internet browser.

 

  1. Safe internet browsing

How do I protect my kids from the nasty side of the internet? A practical solution is to start by placing the desktop or laptop in a common area where you can keep an eye on what your kids are doing online. To protect them from online content, go to www.k9webprotection.com or www.opendns.com for assistance.

 

  1. Laptop or Desktop?

Over the years the gap in costs between a laptop and desktop have decreased substantially. It comes down to personal preference but there are a few compelling points which lean towards a laptop A laptop is portable and can be used in various locations around the home; you can take it away with you; it takes up less space; is neater and your child can use it for school and/or tertiary               studies later on.

 

  1. Backup – why is this important?

People often   forget about the very valuable data sitting on their sitting on their home PC’s namely family photos and documents. It is critical to ensure your pictures and documents are backed up regularly and securely to protect against theft and or hardware failure. Using a remote backup service   is simple, automatic and cost effective.

 

            Andrew Bath – IT Specialist (IT Works)

As our children move from Grade 3 (Foundation Phase) into Grade 4 (Primary Phase), they are confronted with an increase in content subjects and homework. Sandy Williams, Acting Principal at Chelsea Preparatory School, shares some valuable tips to help them cope when preparing for tests or exams.

Time Management is very important.  Some schools provide daily revision guidelines, if not, a month before exams, work out a daily programme to cover all work, leaving the last week for revision.

Although there are various learning styles, it is extremely beneficial for learners to show written evidence of learning.  They need to learn how to summarize information for easy recall during a test. The following are tried and tested ways that help children to remember information:

1. Keywords written with bullet points, will help them to recall the content of the paragraph.

2. Spidergrams

3. Mind Maps – using simple pictures and colour to track important information from the text.

4. Mnemonics is a method for remembering information using the first letters of keywords, making humorous sentences, verses or rhymes. E.g. To remember the order of the colours of the rainbow: Really Odd Yaks Go Bananas In Vereeniging – Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet

5. Flow diagrams – can be used to memorise information that happens in sequence.

6. Carry cards – similar to playing cards; can be used to record information in the form of keywords, formulas, definitions etc.; placed on bedroom walls or mirrors to exercise the memory by seeing the information often.

7. Mathematics – requires practising activities repeatedly.  Include the working out process, as in a test, marks are given for the process not just the answer.

Important tips for studying

  • Find a quiet place to study, at an uncluttered desk. Not a good idea to sit on a bed and ‘read over’ notes.
  • Breathing deeply periodically allows for a good flow of oxygen into our lungs and brains.
  • Healthy eating and intake of water are essential.  Increased caffeine is not recommended and can leave a student unable to sleep the night before a test.
  • Work for thirty minutes, then have a five to ten minute break.  Exercise in moderation is good.

When writing the test…

  • Skim through the whole test to determine level of difficulty of various questions.
  • Marks allocated to each question are a good indicator of how much information is required.
  • Keep calm if some questions appear difficult.
  • Highlight key words in questions and make sure you understand what the question is asking.
  • Work neatly (within reason).  It’s hard to receive marks if writing is illegible.
  • Cross out mistakes neatly.  Erasing takes longer.
  • Complete the easy questions first.
  • If a question is very difficult, leave it out and return to it later (mark with a star, so it’s not forgotten.)
  • Check, check, check!

We live in a world where technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace – the modern home is full of numerous internet-enabled gadgets such as smartphones, smart TV’s, tablets, laptops, computers, and gaming consoles that were unheard of just a few years ago, all of which pose a potential threat to the safety of your child if left unchecked.  How do parents cope with this technology onslaught in their homes? How do you safeguard your children in the digital realm when they are often more tech-savvy than you are?  Mark Khury of Virtuenet shares some practical yet highly effective tips to get you started.

Protecting the Internet “Gateway” of Your Home

This is by far the most important step you can take towards ensuring a safe online environment for your family, and can be achieved by installing a physical “firewall” type device on your home network such as the Family Zone Box (www.familyzone.com). This will ensure that all devices connected to the home network are protected around the clock.

Off-Network Protection for Mobile Devices

As mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets are used outside of the home, steps must be taken to secure these devices as well. This typically involves a software app to be downloaded and installed on the phone. Some apps are only a Safe Browser while others can also block or allow specific apps or device features to be used. Again I recommend the Mobile Zone app by Family Zone which is an excellent fully-featured app with real-time alerts and they offer a fully integrated protection solution that protects your child no matter where they are – at school, at home, or anywhere between.

Parents often ask me – “which is the safest phone for my child?” Personally I would recommend Apple iPhone because it has built-in restrictions that can be enabled. These allow parents to disable to default browser (Safari) thereby forcing the use of the Safe Browser app, as well as blocking access to the App Store which prevents children from installing new apps that you are unaware of.

Another tip I give parents is to only allow apps that are absolutely necessary and that you approve of and block or uninstall everything else, as opposed to allowing your child to install a plethora of apps and then trying to figure out which ones could be potentially harmful. I also recommend that parents read the following books, “Tech-Savvy Parenting” by Nikki Bush and “Digital Cocaine” by Brad Huddleston. These will help educate and equip parents with regard to their children’s online safety.

We are also working with local Internet Service Providers whereby similar protection features as mentioned above will be linked to your home or mobile internet connection with the protection being offered at service provider level (and not requiring any devices or apps to be installed) – this should hopefully become available within the next few months and parents are welcome to contact me for more information.

Mark Khoury
E: markk@virtuenet.co.za
W: www.virtuenet.co.za

Have you recently been told that your child may battle to concentrate, is easily distracted, can’t seem to sit still or listen to the teacher?   Is your first thought, “What now…?  Will he or she need medication?”   Dr Richard Matthis shares his thoughts on the subject.

There are many possible causes for this type of behaviour in primary school children.  These include anxiety, depression, central auditory processing disorder, learning disabilities.  However, ADHD, although not the most common, is often presumed to be responsible.

The first step in helping your child is to get a thorough assessment.  Any of these disorders may be responsible or even coexist.  A multi-disciplinary approach involving an educational psychologist, occupational therapist, audiologist and dietitian is therefore imperative.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder effecting 8 % of children.  The cause is often genetic and not due to poor parenting or family stress.

There are 3 clinically diagnosable sub-types: 

Predominantly inattentive (previously known as ADD); Predominantly hyperactive: and mixed.  All 3 require a holistic approach to treatment.

ADHD essentially affects the child’s ability to self-regulate.

  • The inability to inhibit unnecessary thoughts causes distraction.
  • The inability to inhibit unwanted movement causes hyperactivity.
  • The inability to inhibit a response causes impulsivity.
  • The inability to inhibit emotions causes extreme mood swings and tantrums.

Treatment involves behaviour therapy and/or medication. Behaviour therapy has two parts to it.

  1.  The first part involves implementing supportive measures to assist your child in coping with the daily challenges caused by ADHD.  These include following a daily routine which helps your child focus on what needs to be done, as well as measures taken to reduce the surrounding distractions in their work space.  Basically, supplying a scaffolding to help them accomplish what needs to be done.
  2.  The second part is encouraging more functional behaviour by implementing a system of rewards and removing privileges.

Finally, understanding ADHD will empower parents to manage it more effectively, levelling the playing fields so their child is able to prosper like their counterparts.

Dr Richard Matthis (MBChB)
T: 031 566 4520
E: richard@drmatthis.co.za

“Bullying, be it in the classroom, at the office, or at home, has been around since the beginning of time. Fortunately, this elephant in the room is starting to get the attention it deserves.  Through my work at schools, I have been exposed to bullying in all its forms, and while I don’t regard myself an expert, the insights I have received from educators, parents and social workers have been eye-opening,” says Dee Boehner, Founder and National Coordinator of Kidz2Kidz.

What is Bullying?                                                                                                                                                                                          

Bullying is a repetitive abuse of power which is planned and intended to be hurtful.   Bullying includes physical; emotional; and social abuse.  We also refer to ‘bystander bullying’, which is not a direct form of bullying, but rather the act of witnessing cruel behaviour and doing nothing to address the situation.  Often the bully may experience high levels of stress or feelings of worthlessness.  Bullies generally have low self-esteem, which results in an overcompensation to claim back their power.   They may come from an abusive and/or neglectful environment or are exposed to behaviour which they mimic when among their peers.

Questions to consider:

 

A. If you suspect your child is being bullied…

  • Is my child expressing signs of anxiety, tension and/or withdrawal?
  • Is there a drop in school performance, or an unwillingness to go to school?
  • Is my child showing signs of over/under eating?
  • Are there physical signs? (bruising, cuts, burns)
  • Is there a change in my child’s behaviour or mood? Kids often become depressed, angry or even suicidal when bullied.

      How to respond:

  • It is important to remain calm.
  • Create a safe, stress free environment for your child to speak openly.
  • Build self-esteem; remind them this is not their fault.
  • Listen and gather all the relevant information.
  • Plan a clear, mindful meeting with the school principal.
  • Thereafter, arrange to meet with the principal, teacher and other parents involved.
  • Plan a follow-up meeting to reach a resolution that works for all parties.

B. If you suspect your child may be a bully…

  • Does my child lack empathy and compassion?
  • Does my child show signs of aggression or of being extremely controlling?
  • Is my child frustrated or extremely anxious?
  • Does my child have torn clothing or bruising?
  • Are they constantly on their phones?

      How to respond:

  • As a parent, you will need to acknowledge their behaviour.
  • Explain that it is disruptive or hurtful to others.
  • Your child needs to acknowledge that they are a bully and take responsibility for their actions.
  • Show your child you are there for them and provide the necessary support.
  • Plan a meeting with the school Principal and follow the steps in (A) above.

It is critical to lead by example, and pay attention to what your child is saying.  For bullying to become less of a problem, all role-players need do their best to change negative behaviour patterns at home and at school.

                                                                                                                                                                    www.kidz2kidz.co.za – Cool2BKind #EndBullying

Why the need to set “boundaries”?  What does this really mean?  Tarryn Vieira, a Clinical Psychologist, discusses this important topic.

A boundary is like a property line.  If we know where someone’s boundary is, we know what we can expect them to be responsible for.  From the perspective of a parent, a boundary means the line that you draw around yourself to define where you end and where your child begins.  Drawing this line is no easy task.  Children are the very definition of boundary-pushers!  It’s in their nature to test us and to see how far they can go.  This is how they learn about themselves and the world.

Why are Boundaries Important? 

If we want our children to have healthy, successful relationships; boundaries are the key.
Without knowing what the world expects of them, it is difficult for children to learn how to live up to these expectations.  Not understanding boundaries (their own and others), can lead to confusion and a lack of self-control – trying to control others while being out of control themselves.  These boundary patterns get carried into adult life where the risks are much greater.  Rather than losing privileges as a child, they may face losing a career or a relationship as an adult.  Unfortunately
, no one is born with boundaries.  Our job as parents is to help our children develop boundaries, by what we model to them from our relationships and discipline.                                                                                                                

How to Model Healthy Boundaries

Helping our children internalize boundaries is about giving them experiences of boundaries in action, rather than teaching them boundaries.  This includes experiencing other’s boundaries, receiving consequences for their behaviour, and taking ownership of their choices.   Children learn to become more responsible when we expect responsibility from them.  

Children are very keen observers so… what we do, has more of an impact on them than what we say.  In order for children to learn how to respond to limits, their parents need to have healthy boundaries.

Creating boundaries starts with:

 

  • Defining your own boundaries – what you value and where you stand.                  
  • Making your boundaries clear – your expectations of your child and the consequences of not respecting these boundaries.
  • Consistency – feeling the effect of crossing a boundary is essential for making boundaries part of your child’s world.
  • Choices are important, they need to be held accountable for the choices they make.
  • Modelling how to handle boundary crossings – own up and apologize for crossing another’s boundary.

Children whose parents set clear boundaries and interact with their children in ways that help them learn their own boundaries, develop a clear sense of who they are and what they are responsible for.  This gives them the freedom to make their own choices about things they can control like their feelings, attitudes and behaviour.  They develop the understanding that if they make wise choices, things will go well, while if they make poor choices, there are likely to be negative consequences.

Tarryn Vieira
C: 079 052 6110
E: tarrynvpsychologist@gmail.com
W:  www.tarrynvieira.co.za