Family HQ

A social network site started up a couple of months ago called Family HQ . It is a private networking site so people cannot be searched; you have to be invited to use it. I like the idea of this and have invited a few of my family members to use it. The trouble I have found is that many people who are very protective of their privacy and won’t sign up to a site like Facebook are still concerned about sites that say they are ‘private’. I have only had two people take up my invitations and therefore have a grand total of three people on my Family HQ site to correspond with. Still, this site has potential. If you can manage to get quite a few family members to join in, it is a great way for family to catch up in ‘private’ no matter where they are.

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Too much screen time

An interesting article in the New York Times mentions that kids are now spending much more time now than ever in front of a screen. This is not just television they are talking about – iPads and iPhones are becoming increasingly popular with little kids. Toddlers. Babies even. Yes, I am guilty of this – telling myself that it is ok for the kids to play with my iPad because they are all (mostly) educational games and stories that they play with.

This article has made me second guess myself. Am I really just encouraging my kids to sit and stare at a screen all day instead of going outside? It’s not like they are using the iPad in the middle of the day when it is sunny out – just at night when mummy and daddy are trying to get chores finished.

I guess it could look like it is being used as a babysitter but I tend to disagree. I don’t think exposing children to technology at such a young age is a bad thing at all as long as you ensure they are ‘well rounded’. No, I don’t mean feed them pizza until they burst. I mean all things in small doses are not going to hurt them. As long as they spend plenty of time playing outside and learning to use their own imaginations to entertain themselves then surely a bit of technology isn’t going to hurt.

What do you think? Do your children get “too much screen time”?

Cyberbullying

Since studying more about the Internet in the last few months, I have read quite a bit of research conducted by danah boyd. Recently, she wrote a blog post about cyberbullying. I encourage you to read the links she has attached to it; they are very thought provoking. At the risk of doing her writing an injustice, I will summarise her meaning very briefly. Her new paper is the result of research into the rhetoric used when adults talk about bullying and how this can cause teenagers to disassociate themselves from the idea that they are being ‘bullied’ or are ‘bullying’ others. ‘Drama’ has become the more empowering term they use. As I have said, please read danah’s blog post to understand it as it is intended.

Bullying – whether it is online or not – is such a big fear of mine. I have always tried to build both my daughters’ self esteem up so that they will have the ability to cope with future difficulties. Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily work. They could become the most confident teenagers in the world, but it only takes one snide comment to take all of that away when you are young and confused about your place in the world. What is the answer?

This subject also brings me to a question I have always agonised over (and of course this does not require any REAL answer): Would I rather my child be bullied or be a bully? (Obviously, “neither” is the preferred option).

“Why on earth do you ask yourself that?”, I hear you say. To be honest, I don’t know. It is just one of the things I ponder over when I hear terrible cases of bullying. Of course no one wants their child to be bullied – but no one wants their child to bully others either. It can also have a snowball effect: those who are bullied may bully others in order to gain some sort of empowerment back.

Let me be clear – I have not done any of my own official research on this so I have no real ‘authority’ on it. I am going by my own observations in high school (yes, I can remember that far back, thank you! :-)). I know this for sure – I will be watching over anything my kids write on social media platforms they use as teenagers. I will be asking questions. I will be in their face. I will probably be annoying. I will definitely do something if I find out they are being bullied.

Online identity issues

The abstract in this blog post by Tama Leaver sent shivers down my spine as I realised that everything I write on the Web about my children is becoming a part of their ‘Online Identity’ without them even knowing. I had briefly considered this issue on a small scale years ago when I would write in forums under a pseudonym. When you’re pregnant you aren’t thinking about the little one as a person yet, and certainly not as a ‘future online identity’. You are too busy thinking about morning sickness and impending labour pains.

I don’t plan to write anything on here that would be potentially embarrassing to them. I try to write these posts as if I were reading them directly to my children, mother, and boss. I figure that way I won’t say anything ‘wrong’ (not that I have anything ‘wrong’ to say anyway 😉 ).

I’d be interested to know how much other people think about what they write about their kids online and how it may affect them when they get older. Imagine a teenager reading about the terrible things they got up to as a child and how their parents would laugh at their embarrassing moments. Their future universities and bosses will be able to see all of this too.

When we write about our kids online, let’s never forget they will be choosing our nursing homes one day!

I’ve created a monster

I shouldn’t complain – I only have myself to blame…. we bought a new TV on the weekend. You know, one of those clever ones that connect to the Internet – BUT – I have now become a slave to YouTube.

It was one thing when I would play videos of books and cartoons for the girls on the iPad, but now I have to watch 55 inches of it! Thank goodness they are too young to read – they still need ‘mummy dearest’ to put YouTube on. As long as I don’t let ‘S1’ (age 5) see what I do when I connect to YouTube, she shouldn’t be able to work it out for herself for a while. I wonder how long though. Do other parents lock away their remote controls in the medicine cupboard or am I going to be the first?

On a serious note though – how do I stop my girls from accessing some of the not-so-nice videos on YouTube? Don’t tell me I have to learn how to use parental controls and more passwords just to watch tv!

iPad addict at age two?

Am I a bad mother if my two year old is already addicted to the iPad? OK, maybe ‘addicted’ is too strong a word, but the iPad is definitely her favourite ‘toy’. Should I feel guilty about letting her play Angry Birds at this age? I’m not even sure how she learned to play it in the first place. Kids are just somehow able to pick up any piece of technology and make it work. At the risk of sounding old…. in my day, technology was the tv game ‘Pong‘ which I had to ask my father to set up each time I used it! Now here I am, 30…. something years later watching my own daughter work the iPad like she has been using it all her life. Actually, come to think of it, I guess she almost has used it all her life. Is that how kids have become so good at this stuff? We don’t really think of technology as ‘technology’ anymore. It is just a way of life and we have to let kids play with these things early on so they never get the chance to become scared of technology like we may have been.

The more technology in my house the better, I say. And if I have to use the excuse, “it’s to help my kids learn”, to justify always buying the latest toys gadgets, then so be it.   😉