14 May 2024

Video games and children: A guide for parents

Learning, creativity, connections – video games offer some amazing opportunities for children of all ages (and grown-ups). But parents can find it tricky to navigate the topic of video games with their children. What games? How much screen time? What are the risks? We spoke to video games expert Professor Daniel Johnson, from the Australian…, How can parents best engage with their children and video games? , One of the things we really encourage parents to do is to play video games with their children. Sit down and let them teach you how to play. Let them be the expert. Let them have the joy of showing you their worlds. And what we find from talking to parents is that once they start doing this, their point of view shifts and they can have a much more…, What benefits can video games offer children and adolescents?  , We're all drawn to activities that satisfy our needs for competence, autonomy and relatedness. And video games, when designed well, are incredibly good at satisfying those needs. There are a huge range of benefits that result from videogame play including positive emotion, engagement (associated with happiness), making connections, meaning making…, What are some of the risks around video games that parents should know about?  , Know who your child plays with I think we need to be thinking about who our children are playing with? Who are they meeting online? What level of awareness does a child have about what information to provide or not provide to a stranger online, or even to someone they think they know online?  There are some very bad actors out there, but there are…, Many parents worry about how much time their children spend playing video games. What’s your advice? , What is an appropriate amount of video game play time varies a lot. If it's the middle of school term and a child has a bunch of homework due the next day, then the right amount of play might be zero minutes. If it's the school holidays and they spent yesterday at the beach and they're spending tomorrow at a museum, then maybe a lot of play is…, Do you have any tips for parents of younger children on how to start out with games?, The rating systems can be really helpful, but the problem is that a lot of the content on mobile stores doesn't have a rating. Other parents have been down this path before though, and there are some great communities and forums where people highlight the strengths and weaknesses of different games, along the lines of: “This game is pretty good…, What do you think the gaming industry could do better?, I think those dark or deceptive design elements need to be called out and really thought about.  Are they ever appropriate? If they are ever appropriate, what age group are they appropriate for?  I think we can agree that is not appropriate for a 5-year-old to be playing a game in which a character suggests they ask their parent for money to buy…
08 May 2024

10 ways to create healthy digital habits at home

Raising kids in the digital age isn’t easy. It can be tough to keep up with the pace of emerging technologies and to understand how to balance the risks and opportunities that come with them. We spoke to digital parenting expert Dr. Jacqueline Nesi for her top tips on fostering a healthy relationship with technology as a family., Communicate early and often about the role of technology in your family’s life., 1. Ask your child questions about their devices the same way you would any other activity they’re engaged in. Find out what they like about them, what they don’t like about them, how often they use them and what’s working. 2. Discuss the risks of technology use. Talk to your children honestly about concerns you may have, such as devices getting in…, Set boundaries that make sense for your family., 4. Make “yes” and “no” rules. “Yes” rules are things your child should do. How do you want them to act online? What does it mean to be a good digital citizen? What does “healthy” technology use look like in your family?  “No” rules, on the other hand, are things you don’t want them to do (like bullying others) or things they shouldn’t do for…, Be aware of your children’s use of devices., 7. Explore technology together. Try co-viewing and co-use with children of all ages. This simply means watching or using technology together with your children. This could include watching a show together and talking to them about it. For an older child, have them show you what they’re up to online – what they’re interested in, what apps they like…, Model healthy habits for your children., 9. Act as a team. It’s important as parents to be aware of how (and how often) we’re using our own devices – and that’s hard! But joining with your children in establishing healthy habits and boundaries is a good opportunity to step outside of the “me versus you” dynamic that so often parents fall into with their children, and instead work to…
22 April 2024

What you need to know about “sharenting”

Navigating parenthood in the digital age is no easy task. Social media, smartphones and other technologies are advancing at a rate that seems to grow faster than our children and it’s not always clear how to use them safely – even when you have the best of intentions. Many parents and caregivers share photos of their children and teens because…, What is sharenting?, Stacey Steinberg: I define sharenting as what parents do when they talk about their children outside the family circle: A post on social media with a picture, a blog post about their child, a video through a messaging platform like WhatsApp, etc.  “When we share things about our children online without involving them in that decision making…, What’s important for parents and caregivers to know when thinking about sharing content about their children online?, There are two big things to think about when it comes to sharing content about our children.  The first is the actual tangible harm that kids can experience when parents share online. For example, there are adults who may want to interact with or harm someone’s children because of content they have seen online. In some countries, there are also…, How do children feel about sharenting?, No matter how old we are, we all like to have autonomy. We all value our individual images, whether we're four or five years old and we want to wear the pink dress and not the purple dress, or whether we’re 12 or 13 years old and we want to be seen holding grandma's hand, or we don't want to be seen holding grandma's hand. These might seem like…, How can parents protect their children’s privacy in a digital world?, What parents can do is avoid sharing overly personal information about their kids like embarrassing stories or embarrassing pictures, even if they may find them funny. It’s important to try to see your child’s perspective. Parents should also not share pictures of their children in any state of undress because unfortunately, there are bad actors…, How can parents go about asking others not to post pictures of their children?, Have honest conversations with your friends and extended family about your sharing preferences, but remember that sharing information about children on social media is a relatively new occurrence and not everyone has given the issue equal attention. Approach these talks with the assumption that more communication, not less, will help you have your…, How can parents and caregivers safely share photos and videos of their children?, Sharing can never be 100 per cent safe. It’s always going to be a matter of balancing the risks and what parents perceive as the benefits. For families who do plan to share about their children online, it’s important to consider the audience they are sharing with (what are your privacy settings on your social media profiles, how well do you know…, What can you do if you have already posted a lot about your children and are having second thoughts?, Take a deep breath! Most parents don’t overshare because they’re trying to be malicious. Often, when parents overshare, they don’t appreciate the importance of their child’s digital footprint. If a parent is rethinking how they share and how much they share, a good first step is to start looking at what was shared in the past and perhaps deleting…
08 March 2024

Burns, scalds and fire-related injuries

Burns and scalds are painful and severe ones can result in permanent disability. They often happen at home, and young children are particularly at risk because their skin is thinner than adult skin. The good news is that children can be protected from these injuries by making some simple changes in your home. Jump to: Burns and scalds facts Safety…, Children and burns, Children suffer burns most often when near open fire for warmth, playing with matches, candles, sparklers, fireworks or inserting items into electrical outlets., Children and scalds, Scalds happen when children come into contact with hot liquids, such as when tea or coffee falls on them or the bath/tap water is too hot. Scalds can also be caused by moist heat and hot vapours such as steam. Did you know?  More than 90% of burns and scalds happen in the kitchen to children under 5 years old., Safety checklist, Take these steps to help protect your child from burns and scalds. Never leave hot cups or pots of tea, water, or other hot liquids where your child can reach them. Make sure to store lighters and matches well out of your child’s reach and ensure they are put away after use. Get rid of non-child resistant lighters and only buy and use new lighters…, Protection using smoke alarms, Install smoke alarms in the home on every level, ideally near all sleeping areas. Purchase smoke alarms which also test carbon monoxide levels and change smoke alarm batteries on a specific day every year, so that it is not forgotten. Test the batteries regularly by pressing down on and holding the test button on the alarm., Kitchen safety, The kitchen is one of the most dangerous places in the home for burns and scalds. Children under 5 years are especially at risk as they start to explore and assert their independence by trying new things without their parents. Keep these safety tips in mind to help keep your children safe in the kitchen: Use the rear burners on the stove when…, What to do in a fire emergency, If a fire starts in the home: DO ✅ Get everyone out as quickly as possible. ✅ Always crawl low under the smoke and try to keep your mouth covered. ✅ Stay well away from the burning building. ✅ Have one person call the fire rescue services. DON’T ❌ Remain inside a burning building. ❌ Stand up in a fire.  ❌ Go back into a burning building for any…, Teach children how to prevent and respond to a fire, Teach your child how to “drop and roll” to put out a fire on clothing. Discuss a plan for escaping your home in the event of a fire. Explain that it is safest to crawl or run below levels of smoke, so they can breathe and see more easily. Teach your child that in the event of a fire, they should test a door for heat before opening it. If the door…, Preventing tap water scalds, Tap water scald injuries are the second most common cause of serious burn injuries for children of all ages. Here are some ways you can help prevent them: Teach your child to first turn on the cold water, then add the hot water slowly and to turn off the hot water first. Ensure that your water heater is set no higher than 50°C/ 122°F maximum. If…, First aid for burns and scalds, If you or a family member has a burn or scald, follow these steps on how to treat it. Taking a basic first aid course is highly recommended and can help you be prepared for dealing with such emergencies. Reduce the heat of a burned or scalded area by immersing the affected spot in cold water, or by holding it under gentle cold running tap water…
31 January 2024

Road safety tips

Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death in children and adolescents aged 5-19 years worldwide. Tragically, many of these deaths were preventable. Here are some ways your family can stay safe while out and about. Jump to: Tips for younger children Tips for teens Tips for children with disabilities Crossing the road safely Take action…, Road safety tips for younger children, It’s never too early to start teaching your children about road safety. Here are some road rules to help little ones keep safety top of mind. 1. Traffic is dangerous Explain to your little one that while cars on the road may be fun to look at, it’s important to keep a safe distance. Try taking your child outside and talking to them about it while…, Be a smart cycler, Teach your children to ride their bicycle with traffic, use appropriate hand signals, wear a well-fitting helmet, use bicycle lanes where available, and ensure that their bicycle has working brakes, a reflector and a light. Houda Al-Malik, 26, and her brother Sajad Al-Faraji, 16, leave school in Vienna's 13th district, in Austria., Road safety tips for teens, Teens are driven to seek more thrills than children and adults. While this is a natural part of their development, it can lead to more dangerous risk taking. Talk to your teen about these safety tips to help them make smart choices when you are not around to supervise. 1. Be alert and watch out for hazards As tempting as it may be to look at a…, Road safety tips for children with disabilities, You know your child and their environment best. As you teach your child about road safety, consider any additional needs they might have. For example:  Children with hearing impairments may not hear the noise of traffic – horns, cars, motorbikes etc – so teach them to watch for traffic very carefully.  Children with autism, behavioural and…, How to cross the road safely in 5 steps, 1. Find a safe place to cross Make sure you can see in all directions and that drivers can see you, too. If there is a designated crossing area, use it and explain to your child how they work. 2. Stop Leave a safe amount of distance between yourself and the road. 3. Look both ways Make sure to take your time looking around for any oncoming traffic…, Take action for road safety, By speaking to your local officials, your child's school and community groups about road safety you can raise awareness about effective measures that help reduce injuries and save lives. These include:   Enact and enforce legislation to keep urban traffic speeds on residential streets and on school routes where traffic and children come into…
03 November 2023

How to recognize signs of distress in children

Children have different reactions to adverse events in their environment. Culture influences the ways in which we express emotions. In some cultures, for example, it is not appropriate to show strong emotions like crying loudly, while in others it is widely accepted.  Some signs of distress may not be so obvious. Here are some of the signs of…, Common reactions to stress in children, Many of these reactions only last for a short time, and are normal reactions to stressful events. If these reactions last for a prolonged period of time, the child may need specialist support.   Age Reaction 0-3 years Clinging to their caregivers more than normal Regressing to former (younger) behaviours Changes in sleeping and eating patterns…, Emotional check-ins, To check-in emotionally is to ask children “how they are” in a direct or indirect way. One check-in method is to ask your child to draw or paint a picture. Ask them to tell you more about the picture, what they have drawn, or why they used a specific colour, for example. This may help some children talk about how they feel, whereas other children…, Activities to reduce stress and support your child’s well-being, These activities can be done with your child to help reduce stress and provide them with positive coping strategies that support their well-being. These activities are also beneficial for you and can be done with your child together.  Belly breathing Often when we are stressed our breathing becomes shallow, high in our chests, and we forget to…
03 August 2023

How to keep your child safe online

As your child grows, it is likely they are spending more and more time online. There are so many positive things about being online like staying connected with friends and family, pursuing interests, and being part of communities. But it is not always a safe and positive experience for children. Here's how you can help your child maximize all the…, 1. Set clear ground rules, Have honest conversations with your children about who they communicate with and how, and who can see what they post online.  Explain that anything that goes online – pictures, videos, comments, things they share with others and what others post and share with them and about them – leaves behind a trail of information about them. To make sure they…, 2. Use technology to protect them, Check that your child’s device is always updated and running the latest software, and that privacy settings are on and configured to minimize data collection so that people don’t see any information that you don’t want them to see. Help your child learn to keep personal information private. If your privacy settings are not secure, anyone can see…, 3. Spend time with them online, Create opportunities for your child to have safe and positive online interactions with friends, family and you. Connecting with others can be an excellent opportunity for you to model kindness and empathy in virtual interactions. Help your child recognize and avoid misinformation and disinformation, age-inappropriate content and content that can…, 4. Model healthy online habits, Promote positive online behaviour by practicing it yourself. Be mindful of the example you set and what you share online about your child, including their photos and videos. Encourage your child to be kind online and to support friends and family by sending positive messages or emojis. If they have classes online, encourage them to be respectful…, 5. Let them have fun and express themselves, Spending time online can be a great opportunity for your children to be creative, learn, use their voices to share their views and support causes that are important to them. Encourage your child to use resources on the internet to help them get up and get moving, like online exercise videos for children and video games that require physical…
11 October 2022

How to teach your kids handwashing

One of the cheapest, easiest, and most important ways you can keep your child safe from disease is to get them to wash their hands frequently. Here are some tips on how to turn handwashing into a healthy habit for life:  , 1. Explain the benefits of handwashing, Let your child know that washing hands can keep them safe from bacteria and viruses that can make them and others around them sick. Teach them about how even though germs are invisible, they could still be there. Explain to them that regular handwashing is as important as brushing your teeth or eating a healthy meal.  , 2. Demonstrate the correct steps of handwashing, Explain that to eliminate all traces of infection-causing bacteria on your hands, a quick scrub and rinse isn’t enough. Here’s a step-by-step guide for effective handwashing: Step 1: Wet hands with running water Step 2: Apply enough soap to cover wet hands Step 3: Scrub all surfaces of the hands – including back of hands, between fingers and under…, 3. How long should you wash hands?, Hands should be washed with soap for at least 20-30 seconds. An easy way to time this is by singing the full “happy birthday” song, twice. The same goes if using hand sanitizer: Use a sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and rub it into your hands for at least 20 seconds to ensure full coverage. Remember: hand sanitizer can be toxic if…, 4. Set the times they should be washing their hands, Your child should wash their hands frequently throughout the day. Here are some of the times you should always wash your hands: When hands are visibly dirty  Before and after eating After using the toilet After touching animals and pets After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing  , 5. Turn it into a fun family activity, Here are some ways you can help children wash their hands by making handwashing easier and fun for them:, Did you know?, 1. Is warm or cold water better?, You can use any temperature of water to wash your hands. Cold water and warm water are equally effective at killing germs and viruses – as long as you use soap!  , 2. Is drying hands important?, Germs spread more easily from wet skin than from dry skin, so drying your hands completely is an important step. Paper towels or clean cloths are the most effective way to remove germs without spreading them to other surfaces.  , 3. Soap and water or hand sanitizer – which is better?, In general, both handwashing with soap and water and hand sanitizer, when done correctly, are highly effective at killing most germs and pathogens. But if your hands look dirty, you should wash them with soap and water. Although hand sanitizer is often more convenient when you are outside of the home, it is less effective on visibly dirty hands.…