I recently discovered what is, in my opinion, a very useful parent blog for parents in the digital age. It is the Code9 Parent Blog, an Australian blog linked to a website called Code9 Parent. Code9 apparently means “Parents Are Watching” in teen-speak. This website also has a Facebook Page, which shares interesting and relevant articles related to the digital activities of tweens and teens. It also shares information about apps and online sites/games etc. which parents should look out for and be aware of. I highly recommend this as a parenting resource.
We all know that children love to play games, especially those on their iPads. Unfortunately the reality is that these games can (and do, in our experience) become a huge temptation and a sometimes a hindrance. In fact, they can also become a point of conflict in the home.
As a school we have asked our parents to provide an iPad for their children to use as a tool for learning. The parents manage the Apple ID’s and have full control of the iPads. We realise that, as a school, we have no say over what is downloaded onto the devices. While we did consider this, we cannot and do not want to dictate to our parents what they may or may not download. There are also some very educational games for the iPad and children can benefit from these too. We do not allow games to be played before of after school, and no iPads may be used at all during break times. We want our children to socialise and play with each other – these are important skills for a growing child. This is all part of our aim to encourage responsible use and management of the iPads by our students too.
So then, how does one overcome the games issue? At a Parent iPad workshop held at our school recently, we shared the following advice:
- Limit the number of games (our recommendation is 6 games only, if you allow them at all). Games can be rotated.
- It is also acceptable to disallow games until you feel your child is responsible enough to manage the iPad. You have been asked to purchase the device as a tool for school, not for entertainment.
- Set limits for screen time at home (distinguish between school work and fun time). There are apps to assist with this. (Screen Time on the iPad since iOS12 and Our Pact)
- Discuss this with your children and involve them in the decision-making process.
- Model acceptable behaviour. Is it acceptable to expect children to adhere to screen time rules when their parents are glued to their own smart phones?
- Stick to your decisions – this applies to the use of social media too. You are the parent, your rules apply. Be consistent.
If you are experiencing strife in your home about the amount of time your child spends playing on the iPad, consider the above points again and see where you can make changes. It is far easier to set firm boundaries and relax them a little at a later stage, than to allow a “free-for-all” and then try to pull in the reins when trouble rears its head. We have in the past heard complaints such as “This iPad is the bane of my life!” from one or two parents, and then when we make further inquiries, it is actually the parent management that is at fault, not the iPad. We have also seen student iPads where there are four or more screens of games – no wonder the temptation is too much to resist and the iPad is running out of storage space!
Parents, we urge you to make informed decisions. Make use of websites such as Common Sense Media to guide you in your decision-making. Read all school communication pertaining to the iPad and stay abreast of age restrictions. Take note of the amount of space games take up, especially on 16GB devices.
The iPad is a powerful device, an incredibly flexible tool for learning in the most creative of ways. Let’s work together to make this a happy experience for all.