Online Safety & Screen Time Management from Sky Broadband
You may remember my post regarding Apple’s Family Sharing system allowing you to manage your kids screen time? Well Sky are the latest company to offer their own version. While Apple’s system relies on you using Apple products (naturally), Sky’s screen management system - Sky Buddy - relies on you using Sky Broadband.
The system is user-friendly, smart, totally adaptable to individual children depending on their age etc. and, best of all, removes all blame from you because it’s a cute little ginnea pig that tells your kids they can’t have any more screen time. If you’re a Sky Broadband customer, I couldn’t recommend it more. If you use Apple products, their system is ace too. The point is this: any device producer or internet provider should be offering a parental screen management system and if they’re not, you should consider changing.
It’s part of our world. Deciding that your kids aren’t going to have screens is the 21st century version of burning The Catcher in the Rye, or not letting them get Footloose or indulge in some Dirty Dancing. Things move on, and however hard you try to stem the flow of change as a parent, you will always lose. Plus, research suggests that kids that have access to the internet and screen tend to have better outcomes. So, the internet and screen time itself isn’t damaging; it’s how we teach kids to use it that’s important.
Linda Papadopoulos, celebrity psychologist, says that the internet is like anything else we teach our kids to use; the only difference is that it’s the one thing in the world they’ll have more experience of than us. That can make it difficult, but she suggests we treat it like we treat teaching them anything.
“It’s all about boundaries. Having a set of steps through which kids have to progress and a set of rules for navigating their use of the internet is really important. Just like when we teach them to ride a bike, we start with balance bikes, then stabilisers, then we take the stabilisers off. Showing kids what is quality online time and what isn’t and how to achieve a balance is key.”
Papadopoulos reminds us that this is an ongoing thing. "
“It’ll change as they get older. The rules need to be about real boundaries, but also around communication. The boundaries will be negotiated as they learn how to use the internet more responsibly.”
What Sky Buddy does is provide parents with backup. It’s not a silver bullet. It’s not going to solve all your issues around your kids and their screens, but it’s another weapon in your amoury; it’s a foot soldier on your side. Not only does it allow you decide exactly what kind of sites they are allowed to see or not, you can also define how much time they are allowed to spend using them. It’s device specific, so you can set each kid’s device up specifically for them. Sky Buddy allows you to protect them without removing the reality of the internet or screens.
“There’s been lots of discussion in child psychology recently about the problems surrounding ‘snow ploughing’ - this ‘helicopter parenting’ idea that we should plough all the obstacles in our kids’ lives out of their way. We know that’s not doing them any good. The internet and internet safety is one of those obstacles. You can’t just remove it. Instead we should be arming ourselves with tools that allow us to teach our kids how to recognise those obstacles and navigate them.”
What about snooping on our kids and their online habits? Linda Papadopoulos is pretty clear about this.
“Privacy is not a right. You have to earn it. It’s like terrorism. There are times when privacy can be a priority and then there are times when security has to be a priority. We don’t expect kids to just know how to cross a road. We teach them until they know how to do it without getting hit by a car. Our responsibility is the same when it comes to the internet and our kids.”
And that’s what Sky Buddy is. It’s a tool that helps us manage the internet and screen time so that it doesn’t run away from us and so that they don’t get hit by online cars.
For more information on keeping your family safe online please visit the Internet Matters website.