Christmas 2013 looks set to be a bumper year for new technology: new gaming console releases with the XBox One and the Playstation 4; groovy tablets like the new Nexus 7 and the iPad Air; even wearable technology like the Galaxy Gear and Nike FitBand. We have even seen the emergence of media gaming in the living room through Steam Box and the Steam Platform.
For parents, it can not only be expensive but also a difficult decision about which technology and which content is suitable for their child or family. Very often there will be a pressure to buy certain things because it’s new or it’s what friends have. But like every other decision you make for your child, it needs to be an informed choice if you want to reap the benefits that technology can offer.
How to get yourself tooled up about technology at home:
Understand the tech. Confused about all of these different platforms and devices that can connect? Visit the UK Safer Internet Centre “Parents’ Guide to Technology”
Understand how to manage it. Want to ensure your child uses their new gift in a way that supports their well-being or health? Try the free Vodafone Digital Parenting magazine with lots of great tips on how to use and set parental controls, safesearch or setting ground rules.
Have “the talk” before you buy. An open and honest dialogue with your child, whatever their age, about your expectations when the new technology arrives is a great opener. Stuck on how to begin that conversation? UK Safer Internet Centre’s Ken Corish’s blog gives some starting points for setting ground rules Under 5’s through to 13+.
Heads up on content. Being pressured into buying Grand Theft Auto V for a ten year old? Know what you’re giving them? Try Common Sense Media’s Guide on what is in a particular game, book, TV show, film or app. Make an informed choice!
Or … If you are getting that tug on the sleeve while you are out and about then download the Pan European Gaming Information (PEGI) app for your iPhone or Android to have all of this information to hand.
Better still… find some time over Christmas to step away from technology for a short while. It’s not much fun if the whole family have their heads buried in their own personal device. Have some times over the holiday that are going to be media free when you focus on each other.
The American Association of Paediatrics recommend:
No more than 2 hrs media engagement per day
Discourage media engagement for children under two years old
Discourage the use of media directly before bedtime and at meals
If the thought of media free time is just too much for you to bear, then roll back the carpet, clear the dishes, secure the dog and have a family gaming night.
It can be quite an experience to see your Nan pulling a 360 on Shaun White Snowboarding whilst hanging on to her walking frame!