The 2021 school year is off and running and many of you are in the unenviable position of having received your child’s first school device this week.  Whether you have been provided this by the school or purchased your own through a BYOD program, this school device will impact on your homelife in new ways and it is advised to be prepared and put guidelines in place from the get-go.

Are you ready for what many parents have described as ‘next level supervision and vigilance?’

Some wonderful schools will provide an information night for parents prior to handing over the device to families in order to ensure all parents in their community have consistent, up to date information and strategies for managing these new devices in the home.  If you have not had the opportunity to experience one of these information sessions, we suggest you do your own homework.

Here are some tips to get you started:

Be positive

All students will be working with technology whether they are bringing it home or not. Whilst devices for young children can get a bit of bad press, these devices provide rich educational experiences and help develop a number of life skills. Many parents would rather their children experience this later rather than sooner and the idea of having this device in their child’s little hands is frightening. If this is you, fake it till you make it! Try to be positive about the device in front of your children.  Explain your concerns but be excited with them. Talk about positive online experiences you enjoy and can enjoy together as a family. If they get a sense that you are “anti-technology” it will be harder to have positive conversation around setting guidelines.

Allow them to weigh in on how devices will be managed in the home

Spend time talking about what they enjoy doing on screens and why they enjoy it. Share your concerns and then make them part of the decision- making process around how your family manages online time.  The more ownership they will have of the agreements the more likely they are to stick to it.  Talk about screen distractions and checking in with themselves at different times about whether or not there is something better they can do with their time. Helping them put their own boundaries in place will support independent positive online habits.

Be aware

Most primary aged children will not be given hours of home activities on their devices. Check in with the teacher and find out what the expectations are. If your child is spending hours a night on their laptop and claiming its homework you might want to explore that with them.. they could be pulling the wool over your eyes.

Set time limits for homework and online fun time

The novelty of having this new tool at home is sure to be very enticing and time flies when you’re having fun! We are now well aware that extended screen time can interfere with the ability to function, getting important things done, positive relationships and sleep. Have open conversations about this with your children when finding a mutually agreeable amount of screen time per day. For younger children you may decide that devices during the week are only for homework and ‘play’ time will be allowed on weekends. An after school routine around homework time on devices will be important. Let them know how important time spent together without screens can be and how it positively impacts family relationships.  Be sure to allow enough time in the evening for the brain to prepare for sleep by turning screens off 2 hours before bed.

Find out about Filtering and Monitoring

In most cases devices at school are protected by filtering systems. Once your device comes home it will be up to you ensure you are doing what you can to ensure privacy and safety on your child’s device. Filtering and monitoring is not about spying on your children, in fact, It’s important that they are aware of what you have in place.   Most importantly, you are  helping them to learn about staying safe online and develop good habits from the earliest possible age.