The majority of pupils in our school, even from the age of 4, have access to an electronic device with which they are able to access the internet or play video games on. Our children are undoubtedly growing up in a ‘cyber-society’ and we must respond to this in educating them how to stay safe online just as much as we would offline.
Social networking certainly has its advantages. It can strengthen connections with friends and family and encourages participation in community clubs, collaboration on school projects, and communication with teammates.
Many pupils also spend a portion of their leisure time playing video games and recent Dutch researchers suggest that not only do the newer video games provide younger children with compelling social, cognitive, and emotional experiences, they also can potentially boost mental health and well-being.
So how does it go wrong? Impulsive children may comment on an inappropriate post without thinking, which can snowball and become very hurtful – an online situation can escalate quickly where a young person can feel very under threat, often from people they don’t know. Young children find it very difficult to grasp how public social media is. The Think U Know website is an excellent source of information for parents and children.
We would ask that you follow the links below and read the stories of ‘Digiduck’s Big Decision’ and ‘The Adventures of Smartie the Penguin’ with your child. They are an excellent platform for a discussion about understanding some of the difficulties that may occur when children have access to electronic devices and how they can avoid them.
Some video games can be very inappropriate for young people and it is essential they are protected from being exposed to violence, sexual images, the use of drugs or explicit language. The PEGI labels appear on the front and back of the packaging indicating one of the following age levels: 3, 7, 12, 16 and 18. They provide a reliable indication of the suitability of the game content in terms of protection of minors.