Solutions:by parents for parents

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As parents there is increasing concern over our children’s safety and time spent on the Internet but rather than just focussing on the problem what are the solutions?

How can we, as parents, successfully help our children to thrive in digital age? Where does the correct balance lie between giving our children freedom on the internet and social media putting controls in place to keep them safe or  limiting their  access to the internet?

As parents we need to look to our own personal solutions; where do our family boundaries lie and how do we use devices in our homes? But also how as a community of parents can we work together to set positive boundaries and solutions in place for our children and how can we foster a mindset in our children that uses the internet wisely and respectfully.

No one wants their child to be left out, and, as parents, we all know the emotional tsunami our children torment us with if they really want something, especially if their friends already have it.  In a world where 83% of 12-15 yrs olds ( Ofcom 2017) have a smart phone it can feel like we don’t have many options. But what if as communities of parents we work together to implement change that can help our children make good positive choices whilst also keeping them safe and helping them grow their self-esteem?

In all of this our aim is to help children to be digitally astute; equipping them to make informed positive choices about how much time they send on their phones, what they post and what access others can have to their on line self.

PAPAYA has tried to collate some up to date useful top tips on online safety but also some more practical solutions to help you navigate your way through. On this journey we would encourage you to talk as a family but also canvas your community to try to come up with a collective plan.

 
 

 

Should I get my child a phone?

If so what are my options?

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You may have/care for children who are pre smart phone ownership and wondering what to do. There is growing pressure from children to own the latest smart phone and the prevailing argument is that children will be socially isolated without one. Owning  an iPhone has subconsciously become a right of passage for entry into senior school and it may feel like there aren’t any other viable options. There is no set answer but certainly  smartphone ownership is something worth thinking carefully about before your child gets their first phone. 

It is also worth mentioning it is much to harder add in restrictions or reduce screen time once a child/ teenager already has had a period of time with greater access to a phone

It is definitely simpler to negotiate a phone contract and boundaries at the outset with clear consequences if these conditions are not met. However, the most important thing is ongoing relationship rather than a set of rules. At PAPAYA we believe there are many advantages of delaying getting a smart phone for as long as possible. It allows your child to develop their inter-relational skills, maturity and self esteem before the onslaught of social media. However, there are also may arguments including the convenience (bus passes, alarm clocks, calendars,  and homework)  and availability in favour of smart phones for adolescents - you  need to find the right solution for you.

 
 

 

Advice on apps and staying safe on social media

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Whether your child has the latest iPhone or no phone at all (but some access to the internet through a iPad or computer) it is the apps, as parents, we need to be ahead of the game on.

Some of the best brains in silicon valley have crafted these apps to increase their persuasive technology and keep our young people hooked. Whether its streaks on snap chat, likes on facebook or autoplays on youtube, these apps have been designed with variable reward schedules (a random system of rewards by which the brain does not know what to expect which stimulates our dopamine reward schedules and leaves us craving more) to increase their persuasive technology. They are crafted to draw people in, for example streaks on snapchat lure young people into daily conversations with multiple people to maintain their streak status..

 
 

 

Parent control apps and family media contracts

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When looking at some of the technological solutions available the first issue is actually one of TRUST vs CONTROL. Where do you individually lie on the spectrum of trusting your child vs putting boundaries in place (controls) to keep them safe. However,  wherever you lie on the spectrum, most parents would agree they want their chid to be safe  on line but are we prepared to compromise trusting them to achieve it? There is a difficult balance between trusting our children with unmonitored access to the internet and being more boundaried to keep them safe ( as children are often innocent victims online rather than actively going to look for harmful content). It is worth considering that even sensible and trustworthy children can still be inadvertently drawn into all sorts of mishaps through links from friends, adults posing as friends, seemingly innocent searches on google, and  algorithms on  instagram. Because the internet houses such a range of material from the benign to incredibly graphic hard core porn putting basic filters on your child’s phone may be a sensible first step. This doesn’t interfere with their freedom but is more like insisting children wear a seat belt in a car.

 

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How to re-balance with tech

Worried you/ or your child use they phone or game too much? Read our PAPAYA top tips to help you get the right balance.

Community Level Solutions

How can you work with people in your community to help children thrive in the digital age?

BASIC PHONES ( phones with no internet access)  

Even in todays technological age, phones without the internet do exist! They do have a useful purpose and they are a viable option for your child. If your child needs a phone to text and call you and friends then this is the simplest solution. The main advantage is children can’t download apps without your consent, access harmful content online or snap chat their friends in the middle of the night. You are saving your self endless “discussions” re which apps they can/ can’t have and the disappointment of finding out they have downloaded them anyway without your consent. However, its not the most popular choice and is one more suitable to younger children/ adolescents. However, if you can buy some time with a basic phone your child will be growing in maturity and interpersonal skills during this season and hopefully ready to handle a smart phone well when the time comes.

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ADVANTAGES

Simple to use and durable

Longer battery life

Good for texting and making calls

Good first phone idea

Less distracting and tempting to overuse

No access to apps/ inappropriate content

Less likely to develop screen addiction

Easier to monitor

One option is the Nokia 3310 or you can turn any smart phone into a basic phone by turning the internet access off.

Most retail around £50 for a phone only deal.

For an up to date article (April 2019) on your top basis phone choices read here :https://www.techadvisor.co.uk › Feature › Smartphones Feature


SMART PHONES (phones with internet access)

Smart phones are by far the most popular choice for todays youth. With 83 % of 12-15 years olds owning  a smart phone ( Ofcom 2017) , and  the number is rising all the time.  This seems to be driven by the availability of old handsets, pressure from children that they will be left without one, and the practical advantages they bring.

However, there are things to consider. With a smart phone (with no restrictions) a child can access any part of the internet at any time. There is growing evidence this is leading to young people accessing harmful content online including pornography and loosing sleep to late night texts. However hard you try it is very hard to control and monitor what children get up to on their smart phones and it can be a source of family tension. They can send secret messages via ‘notes’ and access apps through pop ups. They can be a constant source of distraction and source of potential conflict over apps and time spend on them. Children are very astute at by-passing parental controls and the very apps they use have been designed to be highly addictive.

However, this doesn’t mean a smart phone isn’t a good choice but we would recommend considering some  safety nets to allow your child to  access the best of the internet without all the bad bits.

 
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ADVANTAGES

Fit in with everyone else

Access to useful apps eg. Google maps

Some school use to set homework

Learning useful tech skills

Access to social media (if that is what you want)

GPS tracking

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DISADVANTAGES

Expensive to buy phone and data

Access to unlimited social media

Access to inappropriate content

Distracting

Can Interfere with family life

Can be highly addictive

Hard for parents to monitor and manage

Once given very hard to take away

Cyberbullying

Choices of phone: iPhone vs android 

This comes down to price, personal choice and what you want the phone to be able to do. However, rather than promoting a particular product we would just encourage you to see which phone allows your child to use it in the way that is safe. Read the  sections below and then think carefully about how much control you want over your child’s phone and which product will enable you to do that. IOS 12 offers significant advantages over older apple products and this is definitely worth considering if you want to be able to monitor screen time and block adult content . For a good article on top smart phones for children read here: https://www.techadvisor.co.uk/test-centre/mobile-phone/best-kids-phones-3647555/


APP AGE LIMITS

The first thing to consider is the age limit for apps, most are 13 with parental consent. WhatsAp age limit is 16 due to the date sharing issues ( other people on group chats can find out your phone numbers with relative ease and there is no way to stop this). One way to try and delay the onslaught of social media  is to, as a minimum, hold off until the minimum age of the app, thereby allowing your child to grow in maturity before being able to access it. The age limits are however very lenient when considering the access to strangers, inappropriate content and influencers  that they bring right into your child’s hand.  If your child wants to download an app we would encourage you to spend time reading the below guidelines so that you understand what access the app gives them and what safety measures need to be put in place first. By changing privacy settings you can considerably improve the safety of many apps. However, this does not reduce their addictive lure and impact on well being and self esteem, although  ensuring your child has time limits for social apps may help with this. 

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STAYING SAFE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

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Social media was sold to us as something that would keep us connected 24/7, allow us to make new friends and mean we are never alone. However, time has shown it is a portal for cyber bullying, on line grooming, access to inappropriate content and may infact increase loneliness. It also encourages young people to base their value on other people opinions which can damage their ability to develop a robust self esteem.

However, it also the means by which young people today communicate, and denying them access to it may seem a step too far for some parents.

Studies looking at its negative effect have all pointed to a dose relationship ie: the negative side increases with the more time spend on it. Thereby, suggesting there may be a sensible middle path which includes social media just not too much of it! Its really worth reading up and familiarising your self with social media apps prior to agreeing to your child having them. Apps that appear harmless may give strangers access to your child’s location and profile and although none of the social media sites are perfect there are definitely ways to make them safer. By changing the privacy settings and monitoring time spent on apps it may be possible to find a healthy middle ground.

Things to think about :

  • Think about waiting till app age limits/ holding off even longer

  • Setting time limits for social media using IOS 12 or an android version (see PARENTAL CONTROL APPS) to help prevent addiction and help your child learn to monitor their own use carefully.

  • Agreeing as a family to boundaries eg, no phones upstairs at night or at the meal table and consequences if these are broken (see FAMILY MEDIA CONTRACT)

  • Agree to open negotiations before an app is downloaded and that certain apps may come with boundaries eg. having social media set to PRIVATE MODE

  • Know your apps and how to make them more secure

  • Chat with friends in the community- can you agree to similar boundaries?

  • Stay strong - being a parent isn’t about being popular


SNAP CHAT

Snapchat is the infamous messages service where your messages “snaps” disappear after 10 minutes.It has known as a portal for bullying, grooming and sexting (the exchange of naked images), but is loved by teens as its fun and in the moment. However, many an unsuspected teenager has been caught out by a snap saved on screen shot or by a third party append then forwarded, this can be incredibly damaging for their wellbeing especially if it is an explicit photo.

  1. Consider limiting the TIME spent on snapchat as is highly addictive due to its streaks feature

  2. ⚠️ Snapchatters who see your messages can always potentially save them, whether by taking a screenshot or by using some other image-capture technology (a separate piece of software, or even simply by taking a photo of their screen with a second camera).

  3. Check your PRIVACY settings are set up “friends only”

  4. Make sure “Who Contact me is set to my friends only”

  5. Set view my story to “friends only

  6. If your in a GROUP chat with people you don’t know they will be able to see your messages and number unless you changes the setting

  7. Use GHOST mode to disable the GPS map (whereby other users can know your exact location)

  8. Turn OFF quick add ( a facility that suggests you as a friend according to people you already know but gives access to a greater number of people your details)

  9. Learn about how long snaps are visible for and who else can see them


INSTAGRAM

Instagram is a very popular photo messaging app with young people. It allows you to post stories and videos, which in PUBLIC mode anyone can follow and comment on. It has been linked with low self esteem in teenagers as they look to the approval of others on what they post. Many children have two instagram accounts; one very highly manicured public account  and one private one for closer friends.

Age 13 with parental consent.

  1. Set TIME LIMITS for how long children can spend on the app to reduce the risk of addiction and dependance. Reports thus far so far has suggested that the GREATER the time spent on social media the BIGGER the problem. ( see parental controls)

  2. Use PRIVATE mode as in public mode anyone can access your account

  3. BLOCK any followers you don’t know or anyone who is making nasty/ inappropriate contents online

  4. TURN OFF photo map so that people know your exact location

  5. Add COMMENT CONTROLs so you can weed out offensive or annoying comments

  6. If your on facebook as well check your app settings so it doesn’t automatically share between the two sites

  7. Turn OFF activity status so people cant see wether your online or not

To watch how to stay safe on instagram: https://youtu.be/eZbr3-Vl9cE.

For further info on Instagram : https://www.net-aware.org.uk/networks/instagram/ https://www.commonsensemedia.org/app-reviews/instagram

For a real good site on increasing security on Instagram go to:https://heimdalsecurity.com/blog/essential-guide-instagram/

Instagram help: https://help.instagram.com/19688348737750


FACEBOOK

Facebook is a social networking site ( although less so with todays younger generation who have moved onto other platforms). It allows you to create a page about yourself and post stories and photos to your friends. However by default, your settings are PUBLIC so anyone can follow or send you a friend request.

Minimum Age is 13 with parental consent

  1. Set TIME LIMITS for how long children can spend on the app to reduce the risk of addiction

  2. Change your setting to PRIVATE instead of public

  3. Only allow friends-of friends to send friend requests (instead of everyone).

  4. Only allow friends to FOLLOW you (not PUBLIC)

  5. Who can see future posts - change to friends (instead of everyone)

  6. BLOCK anyone who is bullying you on-line or who is following you but you don’t know them

https://en-gb.facebook.com/help/325807937506242

To watch a video with all the details on how you can make a facebook account more private: https://youtu.be/6VyoouopcDY

For parental advice and more detail go to: https://www.net-aware.org.uk/networks/facebook/


KIK

KiK is a instant messaging app that uses a username rather than your phone number or email address. Its going a public group it gives access to anyone if that group put KIK username. Kik allows users to make new friends who share common interests and allows teens to connect with people they don’t already know.

Minimum age is 13 with parental permission 

  1. Kik is popular and in the moment but can be addictive. Set time limits for time spent on the app.

  2. Chose a strong password so that your account cant be hacked

  3. Don’t give out personal information to strangers

  4. If you don’t want strangers contacting you choose a username that is hard to guess.

  5. Don’t give Kik username or Kik code to anyone you don’t want to be contact you via the ap eg) sharing your username or Kik Code somewhere like Twitter, Instagram or Facebook will make it visible to people you might not know - and they'll be able to message you

  6. Think carefully before you join a public or private group on Kik as your username can be seen by anyone within that group ( which means they can contact you)Use the 'Block' and 'New People' features to manage messages from contacts and new people.

  7. Don’t turn ON Phone Contacts so that KIK doesn’t link with everyone on your phone and email.


You Tube

Youtube is a very popular video sharing platform, where you can both watch and upload videos. “ Vloggers” have become famous with post from make up tutorials to travel advice. Children as long as 10 have shared sensitive material about family loss ect and anyone who innocently posts can and may be in the firing line for negative comments and publicity!

  1. Use restricted mode to block in appropriate content

  2. Use YOUTUBE kids instead

  3. Teach young people think before you post especially in the content is sensitive.


TIK TOK

Tik Tok is the social media app of the moment, fun, interactive and with the added bonus of a chance of stardom. Users can easily create, edit and share videos with friends. However, there are multiple reports of predators using this site to groom and share explicit material. In its default PUBLIC mode any one can view the videos your child shares and anyone can send you child a video, which could contain explicit content.  Tik Tok's emphasis is on popular music, and many videos include swearing and sexual lyrics. It's also easy to find people wearing revealing clothing and dancing suggestively, although Tik Tok won't let you search directly for content such as "sex" or "porn."

Tik Tok’s age limit is 13 but all you need is a fake birthdate to bypass this.

  1. Set time limits for using Tik Tok to avoid addiction either through a parent control app on the in-app wellbeing element that alerts users if they have been on the platform for 2 hours.

  2. Set the profile to PRIVATE. This means that’s others users cannot see your videos unless they follow you and you have approved them to do so. In private mode it also restricts incoming messages to followers only. However, even with a private account, your child’s profile photo, username, and bio are still visible to all users on the platform

  3. Turn on restricted mode to filter out inappropriate content – although this is not foolproof and children may still see inappropriate content

  4. You can manage who can comment, duet and direct message your child on the app and set to “friend only”

  5. Supervise your children and stick to songs you already know

  6. Block anyone sending inappropriate messages or videos

  7. Consider sharing an account with your child or following them so you can see what material they are accessing

For further info go to: https://smartsocial.com/tik-tok-app-guide-parents/

For more info go to: https://home.bt.com/tech-gadgets/internet/how-to-keep-your-kids-safe-on-youtube-internet-matters-11364240897926


whatsapp

WhatsApp is a useful group messaging app that is less associated with problems. However, it is worth considering t generates a huge amount of extra traffic and people can feel left out if they are not part of the group chat. It can also be used as a vehicle for group cyberbullying. Whatsapp has end-to-end encryption so messages are protected so no one else can read or listen to them.,

 The minimum age for WhatsApp is 16 due to GDPR issues ( anyone on a group chat can access your phone number)

  1. Set your profile picture and live location to friends only

  2. Exit large chats and block unwanted users

  3. Turn off read receipts

 

For further info go to: https://www.whatsapp.com/safety




PARENT CONTROL APPS

When looking at some of the technological solutions available the first issue is actually one of TRUST vs CONTROL. Where do you individually lie on the spectrum of trusting your child vs putting boundaries in place (controls) to keep them safe. However,  wherever you lie on the spectrum, most parents would agree they want their chid to be safe on line but are we prepared to compromise trusting them to achieve it? There is a difficult balance between trusting our children with unmonitored access to the internet and being more boundaried to keep them safe (as children are often innocent victims online rather than actively going to look for harmful content). It is worth considering that even sensible and trustworthy children can still be inadvertently drawn into all sorts of mishaps through links from friends, adults posing as friends, seemingly innocent searches on google, and  algorithms on  instagram. Because the internet houses such a range of material from the benign to incredibly graphic hard core porn putting basic filters on your child’s phone may be a sensible first step. This doesn’t interfere with their freedom but is more like insisting children wear a seat belt in a car.

There are two very important points:

1) There is a fine line between monitoring  and spying

If using parental control we would always recommend telling your children exactly what you can see eg) that you will be able to see time spent on an app and websites visited but not the content . There are stories of parents downloading monitoring apps without their children knowing, which at very least puts you as a parent in a very tricky situation if you then find something you wish you hadn’t.

2) No parental control app is perfect

Parental control apps have a role in helping your child balance with tech but they are not watertight and they will not solve the problem on their own!  Its important not just to sit back and think your child is safe as there are multiple easy to discover ways to bypass parental controls.  Besides exploiting holes in an internet filter, teens can also find out a website’s IP (Internet Protocol) address (which is a string of numbers that identify the site to other computers) and they can use that instead of the website’s name to gain access. Alternatively, kids can go to a proxy website, which is a web page within a web page that can hide the IP address, in order to surf the web anonymously. Teens are increasingly tech-literate, and many can perform a deceptive operation like this with ease. Teens can also use private browsing mode which simply bypasses many parent control apps and filters with one click and has no cookies or search history.


A guide to parent control guides


There are literally hundreds of ways to monitor your child’ use of the Internet and there are quite a few guides and opinions as to the best way to do it.

You first need to consider which devices you want to protect as certain products work on different devices. Most parental control software doesn’t not work fully on an iPhone and certain features are disabled. 

The second is to consider which features are important to you:

✓Monitoring screen time spent on social media (as well as just total screen time)

 This is available on some but not all parent control guides and we would consider this one of the most important features in the war with phone addiction. It allows you to set limits on how much time your child spends on social media and will deny access once the time is up 

-IOS 12 offers good screen time limits for individual apps but children are getting round them

-questadio ( for android ) offers screen time limits for social media apps 

✓Filtering adult content and blocking sites

This is a very important feature as helps protect your child from accidentally viewing adult content or successfully proactively searching for it. There are ways round the filters but it is a good starting place, and its important to note your child is only as safe as the nearest unprotected device. You can also block certain sites specifically you don’t want your child to access

✓ MUST work in private browser or incognito mode

Parents read carefully. Little known to many people both android and apple browsers allow you to search in “private browser“ mode at the click of a button. Private browser or incognito mode was designed to be safer on shared computer as there is no tracking, filters are disabled, cookies don’t work and there is no search history. Unless this is disabled or the product you buy can overcome this (most cant) your child is ONE CLICK away from accessing whatever they want with no record, no cookies, no filters  and no search history.

It is possible to TURN off private browser mode on an iPhone

Questadio ALSO works on private browser mode

✓Parental insight

This is where the grey area begins. Some parent control apps allow you to know the websites visited and who your child has messaged ( although google has recently disabled this feature so only Questadio is currently working). Others go further and allow you to see all the content of the messages. This is not necessarily a bad thing along as your child is aware but teenagers do need and deserve privacy, otherwise they will come up with other ways to achieve it. I’m not sure I would have wanted my parents to have direct access to my personal diary, but probably wouldn’t have minded them knowing the dates I wrote in it and for how long. Other parental control apps use artificial intelligence to monitor your child online and send you an alert if something worrying is triggered.

The best parent control app will depend on what type of phone your child has:


iPHONE

IOS 12 

If your child has a newer modeller iPhone with IOS 12 software the simplest way to limit their phone use is to use the inbuilt software to control screen time, block adults content, limit or block access to games and restrict internet searching. You can set time limits for different apps and schedule downtime. It is all controlled by a parent password. It is possible to turn off private browsing OFF an iPhone and lock with a password so IOS 12 does get round this problem. However, children can get round it especially the screen time limits by re downloading the desired app and thereby resetting the clock.

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ADVANTAGES 

  • Best for iphones

  • Allows you to set total screen time

  • Allows you to set LIMITS for individual apps

  • Allows you to block apps

  • Allows you to monitor PRIVATE browsing

  • Allows you to filter for adult content

  • Allows you to set downtime

  • FREE

  • GPS location

DISADVANTAGES 

  • No search supervision 

  • No call and text message monitoring 

  • No ability for children to request access to a site that is blocked 

  • Children can find ways round it especially the SCREEN TIME by deleting and reloading the app they want more time on


Parent control apps on android phones

There are dozens of parental control apps for android phones. Please follow the quick guides below to help you choose the best one for your needs. If monitoring screen time and private browser mode is important for you we would recommend qustadio.


QustOdio

Qustodio is one of the few parent control apps that works in private browser mode AND allows you to limit screen time

Advantages

  • BEST FOR ANDROID PHONES as works in private browser mode

  • Allows you to set total screen time

  • Allows you to set LIMITS for individual apps

  • Allows you to block apps

  • Search supervision - allows you to see search terms and search history

  • Option to view who has messaged

  • Option to view content of texts but not social media feeds LINK 1

  • Also works in PRIVATE browsing mode( LINK 2)

  • GPS location

Disadvantages

  • No ability for children to request access to blocked sites

  • Not all functions work on an iPhone

  • Cost


KASPERSKY

Advantages

  • Allows you to set total screen time

  • Allows you to set limits for individual apps

  • Allows you to block apps

  • Search supervision- alerts you if blocked terms used

  • GPS and battery tracking

  • Allows children to request access to

Disadvantages

  • Doesn’t work in private browsing mode

  • Ability to view who messaging and content currently disabled

  • Certain features don’t work on iPhone

  • Cost


NORTON FAMILY

Advantages

  • Allows you to control total screen time

  • Allows you to block certain apps

  • Search supervision

  • GPS location

 Disadvantages

  • Doesn’t allow to you control time on social media

  • Ability to view who is messaging and content currently disabled

  • Doesn’t work in private browser mode

  • Certain features don’t work on I phone


Google Family Link

Google family link is a free and works on androids phones until children are 13. It offers some screen time limits, down time and ability to lock a phone.However, it has much less to offer in terms of  time spent on individual apps and ability to see search histories.

Advantages

  • Blocks private browsing mode

  • Free

  • Can set screen time and down time

  • Can lock phone remotely

Disadvantages 

  • Only works on androids in under 13’s

  • Cant set individual app limits

  • No text or call monitoring

  • No search history

  • GPS tracking

  • Aims to block adult content


family media contract

Family media contracts are traditionally a lengthy lists of do’s and don’t that parents negotiate with their children prior to getting a smart phone. However, behind every contract needs to be conversation, trust and relationship. We believe having an open channel of communication is the most important thing to have in place at whatever point you are on the tech journey. If you are delaying buying a smart phone this is a really good time to discuss why and to try and get your child on board. If on the other hand your child has a phone and your trying to reign it in slightly talking about everyones tech use as a family is a great place to start. The big conclusion you are trying to reach is a shared agreement on some set family values rather than coming at it as a list of don’ts.

If you need some inspiration as why everyone in the family may need to engage with this; watch the two video’s below:


SOME IDEAS OF QUESTIONS TO DISCUSS 

How do we, as a family, want to communicate?

What do we value most about our family?

What do you/ don’t you like about our families use of technology?

What do we / don’t we like about social media?

What are our BIG NO’s and why?

What compromises can we all agree to?

What will the consequence be if we push the boundaries? The most effective consequences for learning and behaviour modification are “natural consequences” eg ones that are linked to the undesirable behaviour. Therefore, some loss of phone privileges (eg. either phone taken away for x period, less time on social media, or  no gaming for x time ) is a HIGHLY effective way of modulating behaviour. It is NOT popular but may be the only way to make sure the contract is honoured. However, angry you are when the rules re broken research shows the consequence is more effective if you can show empathy at the time “ I’m so sorry ….”

How much screen time is reasonable? In the week? At weekends?

Are phones in bedrooms a good idea? What should our family decision be?


If you prefer something formal here is a comprehensive template:


HOW TO RE-BALANCE WITH TECH


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Are you addicted to your phone?

How would you feel if you were unexpectantly separated from it?

Smart phones and addiction 

Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that makes you feel GOOD. It is released in anticipation of reward - like the build up and excitement  before you go on holiday- its that feel good buzzy feeling prior to something good happening. Our brains are flooded by dopamine as we subconsciously ANTICIPATE REWARD (a nice comment on our photo, message from a friend or achieving the next level on a game). Social media  and gaming sites have been specifically designed to use these so called  “variable  reward schedules” to make our brain release more dopamine (making us feel good) and thereby making them more ADDICTIVE .as we crave more dopamine.

Tech companies like Facebook, twitter, instagram and google are all caught in a race for our attention (humanetech.com). They need our attention to make money, and the more the better. The  more we scroll the more they make, the more we click the more income they generate.

Tech companies are employing the best psychologists in silicon valley to increase the persuasive technology of their apps and keep us glued to them - wether its scroll downs, autoplays on you tube, notifications, or streaks on snap chat - they are actively learning how to hook us in  more  and mored deeply .

These are not neutral products - they are designed to be addictive and rob us of our time and attention.”

"You're always looking at how it can be used in a great way — homework and staying in touch with friends — and also where it has gotten to excess," Bill Gates told the Mirror in April 2017.

Each of Gates' three kids — ages 15, 18, and 21 — has grown up in a home that forbade cell phones until age 14, banned cell-phone use at the dinner table, and set limits on how close to bedtime kids could use their phones.”

QUESTIONS TO DISCUSS

How do you feel knowing tech companies are making money from your use of social media?

Do you mind?

What do you think about tech companies making their apps  specifically more addictive for young people?

How do you feel that Bill Gates sends his children to a tech free school and limits their tech use?

Do you think tech companies have a duty of care towards young people?

Ask the question : “How would you feel if you were un-expectantly separated from your phone for more than an hour?”

There is no right wrong / answer. But if you feel worried, agitated and anxious without your phone it is sign you may be overly reliant on it.

HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU / YOUR CHILD SPEND ON YOUR PHONE?

Try to ascertain how much TIME your child is spending online and how much this equates to over a lifetime.

How much time do you spend on your phone/gaming:

On a average day?_____________

How much is this per week?____________

Per year?____________

Over 70 years?__________

HOW TO RE REBALANCE WITH TECH

To try and rebalance with tech its important to try and make our phones a little bit less alluring and attractive.

  • Try a flip cover

This literally dumbs down your phone ( making you less likely to check it)  and prevents breakages!

  • Grey scale your phone

Grey scaling your phone also makes it less attractive to look at , meaning you are less likely to check it and spend time on it.

  • Turn off notifications/ use do not disturb mode

To reduce the amount of noise your phone makes its easy to turn off notifications for apps/ emails ( this put you back in control as you can check them WHEN you want) . You can also enable do not disturb mode if you dent want any incoming calls/ texts ( you can allow specific numbers through so your no cut off completely ) 

  • Delete/ hide apps

By taking apps out of your sight line you are less likely to use and check them.

  • Set your self time-limits

Both newer iPhones and androids have built in programmes to help you set screen time or you can do this as part of parental control soft wear. Its a great way to prevent unlimited use.

  • Try the FORREST app when working

This is a handy little app that rewards you for not checking your phone with coins that go towards planting real trees. 

  • Consider leaving it downstairs at night

There is a general consensus that screens up within an hour of bedtime can disrupt sleep. Except advice is to not use screens an hour before bed an ideally leave them downstairs. This one step can probably make the biggest difference to reducing phone addiction and improving sleep and wellbeing.

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RESIST THE CRAVING

Nothing bad will happen if you don’t check your phonier game.

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What are your phycological triggers for checking your phone?

Boredom? Fear of missing out? Not wanting to look alone? Anxiety?


community level solutions

As parents we are powerful especially if we stand together
— PAPAYA

At PAPAYA we want to encourage parents to find solutions TOGETHER. It can be a lonely place trying to navigate the digital world on our own, and children have very strong opinions on the mater.

However, we have seen parents coming together to set boundaries in place that are much easier to implement if your not alone.

✓ Discuss with your children friends parents phone options. If your going down the basic phone root try to find some others who will do the same.

✓Talk to other parents about what apps their children are allowed and consider as a group trying to limit social media. Consider setting an animus survey so parents can find out what everyone else is actually doing.

✓Put some communal boundaries around gaming eg: time limits or weekends only

✓Talk to your school about their phone rules. Try and petition your school to become a phone- free school.

✓Invite PAPAYA to run a workshop for you