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Parental guidance to maintain digital wellbeing 24.03.20

IN this unsettling time as more parents in Inishowen try to work from home, children’s screen time may increase more than usual. More than ever, it is important to be critical about the information we read online and to manage your digital wellbeing. If you feel your screen time is excessive, or is affecting you and your family, have a look at Barnardos other guidance for parents on ways to keep children occupied during this time.
Guidance and Support for Parents for their Children’s Screen Time:

1) Take a break from the news. As a parent, it is important to keep informed, but be mindful that an overload of information can increase anxiety. Check in with yourself to see how you’re feeling as children can often sense if you’re anxious or upset. Put a limit on the amount of times you check the news a day if you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed.

2) Check reliable sources. There is a lot of misinformation circulating online and on social media at present. Before accepting anything as fact, or before spreading the information around, think to yourself “where did this information come from and who wrote it?”. “Is this information from a credible source or organisation like www2.hse.ie . Model good behaviour for your children and encourage their critical thinking skills when it comes to information they read online.

3) Keep connected to friends and family. Thanks to technology, there are many ways you can keep in touch with loved ones. Zoom, Skype or Google Hang outs can all help you to have ‘virtual tea and chats’ to check in with others. Why not schedule to watch a film at the same time or even organise a virtual table quiz for others? While we may not be able to socialise outside of the home, parties can still take place, albeit ‘virtual parties’.

4) Understand more about parental controls. Use this time to understand how you, as a parent, can help your children to stay safe online. Check out the excellent website www.internetmatters.org where it shows you, step by step, how to put in place parental controls on some of your children’s phones, social media and browser settings. Understand more about privacy settings, learn how to help your children block and report and find out how to install timers so that your children have limits on the amount of time they spend online.

5) Take an interest in your children’s online world. This is a fantastic time to open up more conversations about your child’s online world. Ask them what they like to do online and why? Ask them to show you how to play their video games and spend time together playing! If your children are older, ask them if they follow any Youtubers/social media influencers and spend time discussing what they like about them. Most importantly, remind your children to be kind online.

6) Keep learning. There are many educational websites and apps that will keep children and young people entertained and engaged. Look on www.commonsensemedia.org for ideas or perhaps now is a good time to learn how to code with your children - www.scratch.ie  Another great way of learning how to stay safe online as a family is to explore the free, interactive, Be Internet Legends game, aimed at primary school children.

Barnardos CEO, Suzanne Connolly said: “As we face into a time of uncertainty it's more important than ever to maintain a sense of routine for the young people in our lives. While it might feel as though we are each living in isolation, the advances in technology means that those we care about, and excellent resources, are at our finger tips. This is a fantastic time to reconnect with your children, to learn more about their online lifestyles and we hope these tips will not only encourage families to find a fun sharing space, but also anyone else feeling isolated at the moment.”
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