Sunday | October 20, 2019

Is the Internet Harming Your Kids?

Without a doubt, technology has changed our children’s lives. The emergency of things like the internet, smart phones and social media has dramatically altered their childhood from the childhood we knew when growing up. Things we as parents didn’t worry or think about as children are now front and centre when it comes to raising our own children. Why the worry?

According to a MediaSmarts survey, “Young Canadians in a Wired World”, nearly all Canadian children are going online. In fact, of all students surveyed, 99 percent responded that they have access to the internet outside of school and across a variety of devices. Twenty-four percent of Grade 4 students own a cell phone or smart phone while more than half of Grade 7 students and 85 percent of students in Grade 11 have them. What’s more, the survey found that more than half of students in Grade 11 report sleeping with their phones in case they get a call or text at night.

While technology and the internet can be a great thing, the current trend is often alarming to parents and experts alike. They worry about the adverse impact the extensive use of the internet might be having on our children. Challenges include everything from cyberbullying and posting or viewing inappropriate content to a reduction in attention spans and even increased rates of depression.

It makes sense: the more time kids spend texting one another, they less time they’re spending developing social skills, participating in extra-curricular activities and even sleeping. On top of it all, their brains haven’t fully developed enough to understand that what they post now can have short and long-term consequences. What they might think is an innocent mistake can cost them a job in future or even make them a dangerous target for predators. It all adds up to a big concern: is the internet harming our kids?

It doesn’t have to. There are things parents can do to ensure their children are using technology in a way that is empowering. We can ensure our kids are accessing the internet in responsible and appropriate ways.

Talk about it. The first thing parents can do is have an open discussion with your children. Let them know the advantages as well as the dangers of going online.

Advantages can include researching a project, communicating with friends and even having fun by playing video games online.

​There are many dangers. Some of these can include using social media at the expense of other activities or not considering the consequences of posting inappropriate photos or comments on social media. Talk to your child about these dangers so they are aware. Ask them how they intend to use the internet, how often is appropriate, and what sites are safe vs unsafe.

Set the rules. The MediaSmarts survey showed that household rules have a major and advantageous impact on childrens’ online behaviour. It has been shown to reduce risky behaviour like posting contact information, visiting gambling or pornographic sites and talking to strangers online.

​It’s up to you as parents to decide when your child can get a phone, where they can keep the phone, how often they can use it and what sites they can visit. You might consider allowing your child to have an email address but holding off on a Facebook account or Twitter until they are older, more mature or understand how to use it responsibly.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Let your child know they can talk to you[/pullquote]

​Check these social media sites to see what they recommend and if there are any age limits. You might allow your child to use their phone once their homework is complete, but decide there are certain times that will be cell phone free. You might want to all take a break during dinner or family time and set an example yourself. You might also restrict the use of phones when homework is being done and when it’s time for bed, as the phone can be a distraction from concentrating and resting.

Monitor behaviour and use controls. Numerous parents like to check in on their children’s social media use. They might regularly visit their child’s Facebook page or see what they’re posting on Instagram. Let your child know you’ll be watching so they understand there are limits to how they use the internet.

​You can also change the control settings on devices to block your child from accessing certain sites or even using their devices at certain times. Often, these controls can be found in your Settings and are easy to apply and change as your child gets older.

Let your child know they can talk to you if they have questions or concerns about using the internet and social media safely and responsibly. The internet can hurt children, but it doesn’t have to.

 

January 22nd, 2018

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting, Technology, Uncategorised

Tags: , , , , , , ,


Helping Older Kids Understand Extreme Cold Weather Conditions

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]It does not take long for intense cold weather to negatively affect your children when outside.[/pullquote]

The winter can be a fun season.

There’s so much to do outdoors, like skiing, tobogganing and ice skating. But extreme cold weather can mean risks to your health and safety. Often, parents worry about cold weather as it relates to little children. We bundle them up warmly and know they’re protected from the elements.

It’s easy to assume older children will know how to dress themselves warmly and appropriately for cold weather, but it’s not always the case. Not only are snow pants for teenagers sometimes seen as “uncool,” but older kids might either not check the forecast or underestimate the dangers of -20 degree Celsius weather.

That’s why it’s especially important for parents and older kids to develop an awareness of extreme cold weather conditions—what it means, the dangers it presents and how to prevent things like frostbite and hypothermia.

An Extreme Cold Weather Alert is issued when Environment Canada predicts a forecast of -20 degrees Celsius or colder or a wind chill of -30 degrees. Whether your kids walk to school or go outside at lunch or recess, exposure to cold weather can lead to respiratory illnesses like colds and flu, frostbite and hypothermia. Some of these conditions will require immediate medical attention.

To limit illness and exposure to the elements, you’ll want to ensure your older kids know how to stay warm and dry. A few things to note:

Check the forecast. When you get up in the morning, put on the news or check a weather app on your phone. What will the temperature be throughout the day? Will it be a dry day or does the forecast call for precipitation? What is the temperature with the windchill factored in?

Dress in layers. Wool and fleece hold heat better than cotton and make great inner layers. Top inner layers with waterproof and windproof outer layers and warm, waterproof boots. If you’re planning to spend any time doing outdoor activities, wear thermal leggings, warm socks and snow pants. You can even buy special mitten and boot inserts at sporting goods stores to warm your hands and feet if you’re going to be skiing or skating, for instance.

Cover exposed skin. Wear a hat that covers your ears, warm mittens (instead of gloves) and a scarf or neck warmer to prevent wind from touching your skin. Make sure to zip up your jacket and cover your face against the biting wind to prevent skin from painful frostbite.

Change wet clothing. If you’re wet or have been sweating, you’ll want to change into warm, dry clothes as soon as possible to prevent developing hypothermia.

Reschedule outdoor activities. If extreme cold weather is forecasted, your school might reschedule that ski trip you were looking forward to. You should also consider rescheduling other outdoor activities, like skating with friends, and plan to do something indoors, such as see a movie instead. An indoor activity would be a much safer idea on days like these. You might also want to take public transportation or ask for a ride rather than walk to school or your friend’s house if the weather is expected to be extremely cold.

Know the signs. Frostbite can occur when skin is exposed to extreme cold. Skin will freeze and die when temperatures are so cold that blood can no longer circulate. It can affect any area of skin, including cheeks, nose, hands and feet. Skin will turn yellowish and feel stinging or numbness. The condition requires medical attention, but there are things you can do in the meantime. You’ll need to remove tight clothing or jewellery and warm your hands in your armpits, which retains heat. Get inside immediately. You can even immerse frozen fingers and toes in warm water.

​Hypothermia, another cold-weather-related condition, occurs when the body’s temperature drops below 35 degrees. Symptoms include shivering and confusion and, if untreated, can result in organ failure and death. Warning signs for kids include bright red, cold skin and very little energy. Seek medical attention immediately. While waiting for medical help, replace wet clothing with dry, get indoors, wrap the body with warm blankets and drink warm liquids.

It does not take long for intense cold weather to negatively affect your children when outside. Just take a variety of precautions to help them understand how to reduce their chances of overexposure.

 

January 9th, 2018

Posted In: Community, Education, Nutrition, Parenting, Uncategorised

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,