By Zaheer Khan, a specialist in technology related security, an idealist but most of all indulges with computers, apps and new phones when not running around with his Light Saber and his kids through the parks of JoBurg
Children and young people have always been keen to grasp the opportunities offered by new technologies, and mobile phones are certainly no exception.
So, what is an appropriate age to buy your child a cell phone? More importantly is it safe for children to use and what are the long term effects on them.
Buying a cellphone for under 12 yr olds makes no sense because:
I am not opposed to limited usage of a borrowed parents’ or siblings’ phone. Parents who see a specific need to introduce it to their children earlier should take precautions to ensure that it becomes a tool and not just a toy that becomes abused
Ways to Introduce a cellphone responsibly :
If a child wants their own phone, let them enter into a contract with a service provider and take responsibility for paying the monthly fee until the contract expires. Make it clear that the payments continue until the end of the contract even if the phone is lost or broken. The phone can also be used as a disciplining tool where its privileges are taken away while the responsibility of paying the bill still continues.
Be aware of the risks involved which include:
Use parental controls
Computers and other digital technologies like games consoles and mobile phones have parental controls. These let you do things like:
Check the equipment’s user manual or manufacturers’ websites to see what controls you have access to. Contact your internet service provider (ISP) or mobile phone operator to find out about any child safety measures they offer
Setting rules with your child
The best way to set reasonable rules for your child’s phone use is to :
- Inappropriate behaviour ie being on the phone when having a guest over, or texting at the dinner table
- use of abusive or threatening language in any online communication
To keep your child safe you should tell them not to:
Parents should also remember that most smart phones are doors to the internet and that any risks posed by the internet similarly apply to cellphones as well.
We need to rely on our kids to teach us about the dangers facing their generation (technology and otherwise) – we teach them the basic values and morals, they teach us about technology, and together we figure out how to bring our values and morals to the new technology/situations in a way that is reasonable and not overly restrictive
by Tanya Kovarsky, mom to Max , addicted to blogging, Apple products, long-distance running and Converse shoes. Freelance writer, with 11yrs experience who does editing, writing and training. Read her blog
I am the first to applaud social networks like Twitter, Facebook and blogs as wonderful forums for sharing mommy angst, agony, pride, questions and research. It’s a place where I get to share pics of my kid, high five moms, lament toddler tantrums and ask for advice on the best eye concealer (you know, to cover evidence of sleep deprivation). Heck, once I even ran a fun poll on my blog Dear Max where I asked moms whether I should cut my baby’s hair from long blonde to short and neat.
Most of us can say we’ve made best friends, found virtual hugs – even at 2am in the morning – and gotten valuable advice online. But as in every schoolyard, there is a bully, and on social media, the bullying takes place in several forms. And online, it’s even easier to throw punches or vile words when there is a screen protecting you. Whether it’s moms criticizing others who opt for caesar births or formula feeding, or, horror, sleep control, or mothers getting mean with others because they feel left out, it’s a rough playing field.
We want to be hugged, propped up and supported, yet so often we’re judged, slagged off and spoken about passive aggressively in sub tweets and more. And I suspect it’s because we’re a little insecure about our own parenting, or aren’t supported enough in our own right, or want others to like us (I wrote about this extensively on my other parenting blog Rattle and Mum). Or we just don’t know how to play nice. Which is a shame if we are trying to teach our kids manners, respect and good communication.
I don’t think it’s enough to adopt a “do as I say” approach with parenting. If I want my kid to be a decent person and to be able to confront things maturely rather than passive aggressively, I probably need to start somewhere myself. First at home, and then in the big wide world, of which social media is a big part. As for me, I’m trying to develop a thick skin against the nastiness, shutting out the judgement calls, while opening myself up to the dozens of awesome moms who hold me up as a mother, woman and person.
by Laura Allmayer who has 3 kids, a fiance, a dog, a hamster, a bird & a swimming pool. When she’s not trying to make sure they all remain alive, fed, clothed and loved she’s baking, writing, reading or pampering a bunch of over excited little girls for their birthday!
Nothing prepares you for becoming a parent. No one, even a parent, can explain the love you feel for your child. More importantly no one can explain the anxiety and guilt and confusion that you experience when you become a parent.
You can cross the items off your layette list. You can stock up on formula and dummies and slings. You can read all the books available and subscribe to every magazine there is. Still nothing really prepares you.
The only thing to do is get as much support as you can. Those first few weeks and months with a new baby are often the loneliest but the wonderful World Wide Web does offer a world of support, comfort and advice.
There are countless parenting forums, blogs, facebook groups and websites offering support for moms, moms to be, moms of multiples, moms with PND and so on.
The biggest advantage of these groups is that you don’t have to leave the comfort of your bed to join in. You don’t have to venture out with a baby or sleeping toddler; you don’t have to bath or put on make up. You can read a blog whenever and wherever you want. As much as I love meeting new people, this is one of the things about online life that I enjoy the most because I can be a part of a community without being physically present. There is no pressure on me to attend a meeting or plan an event.
Another plus point is you are totally in control of what you read, what you are a part of and what you share. You can choose the blogs you read, the forums you become a part of ,the groups you join and if at any time you don’t enjoy it any more you can leave without feeling guilty or having a confrontation with the people/person involved. This is not to say that bloggers don’t feel the loss of a reader or commentator because we do but I certainly don’t take it personally or feel the need to demand an explanation when I notice someone seems to have stopped being a part of my community.
But there are also down sides to seeking support online. There will always be people who compete, people who say hurtful things, and people who feel they are better than you. It is so easy to get caught up in the drama of a heated debate in a parenting forum about whether you are a bad parent for giving your child solids at 3 months. It is also so easy to get hurt when comments get thrown around judging the decisions and choices you have made. Being online gives anonymity and people tend to feel that anonymity gives them free reign to say hurtful things.
Despite that ,my online experience has been more positive than negative. I have found great comfort in the community of online mom’s I have. In the early days with my youngest they are often what got me through the day. When I share my frustrations with my daughter and her learning issues I find such encouragement from the comments I get from mom’s who are dealing with or who have dealt with the same issues.
What have your experiences with finding support online been like? Has it been a positive or negative experience?
For every word, comment, tweet, blog post and Facebook status I put out there, I consider that my son, who is only 20 months old and cannot say internet let alone type the word, could and might one day read what I’ve written. I’ve been tempted to swear a lot and slag people off, and complain and be rude on the internet. But then I ask myself if I’d be proud for my child to one day read what I’ve written, and that is the ultimate deciding factor before I hit the “send” button. And I don’t always get it right. A certain tweet of mine once got me in the bird poo, and it was a lesson that came with some tears but a resolution that I’d try not to do it again.
I sometimes watch bemused and shocked how moms slag off their partners, their kids, their teachers and their lives. I appreciate and love the fact that the web gives us freedom and a voice, but I think as parents we need to be cautious and set a fairly decent example. I don’t want my child to think it’s okay to be malicious, impatient, intolerant and unable to confront people face to face, which is why I’ll do my best not to act like that not only in front of him, but through what I put out on the web. And you might argue that by the time my son can read, the tweets and Facebook comments will be long deleted into cyberspace, but I believe we leave big imprints on the way, and I’d rather err on the side of cyber caution (or neurosis, if you will). Either way, it’s a good exercise in guarding my tongue (or my finger), and remembering that good manners do start at home and from my work laptop, Macbook, iPad and iPhone.
Last week, I had brunch with a group of moms I met through a website forum. Tomorrow, I have playdate with a mom I met on Twitter and through our blogs, and I’m trying to arrange – via email on Smartphones – drinks with another mom I connected with through my magazine’s website forum. I considered these moms “friends” before even meeting them, and with them, there are dozens more, connecting, consoling and chatting with me digitally, whether it’s through blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting or posting on forums.
My digital connections with other moms have helped me through sleepless nights, have enabled me to find great costume shops in Joburg, and have made me feel “normal” with my imperfections as a mother. For example, the other night, after a trying wake-up at 2am with a crying teething baby, I Tweeted that I was awake and had a miserable baby. Five minutes later, I had not only received Tweets of compassion, but had found another mom whose baby was going through the same thing. In that moment, my “problem” was halved, my heart warmed, and I’d found a new “friend”.
From my online friends and reading their blogs, Tweets and posts, I’ve learnt that I’m not the only one who wants to go to the loo alone, and I’m not the sole mom who occasionally gives her kid cereal and yoghurt for supper because it’s easiest, or wishes that she could go back to the pre-children days for a few hours just for that Sunday-afternoon nap.
Digital connections are making motherhood easier and less lonely. It’s allowing us to vent about our challenges, to ask for a the best tried-and-tested nappy rash remedies, to moan about loss of sleep, and to find comfort from those who just “get it”, without judgement most of the time. No one said motherhood was easy, but my iPad, Blackberry and laptop are facilitating my journey, thanks to the friends, listeners and supporters “inside.