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Interests: parenting, writing, art and design, travel, different cultures.

Likes: reading, cinema, coffee and cake, aerobics, animals, weekends with friends.
Dislikes: discrimination, coin operated trolleys, voice recognition (I'm a Scot...enough said)

Monday, 16 September 2013

Modern technology...a blessing or a curse?

What are your thoughts on children blogging? I have very mixed feelings about it. My son, who's 8, has asked on occasion to start one, so far we haven't given in. I can see the benefits in that it encourages children to write, learn better vocabulary, learn more IT skills. However, as a parent who already struggles to wean the kids off TV and computers, I am reluctant to add yet more computer time to the ways they spend their free time. Following our holiday this year, I gave the kids a folder/book each, printed off some holiday photos, gave them stickers etc. and enjoyed watching them make their own holiday scrapbooks. I feel at such a young age, this is a better way for them to write about things they like, and use their creativity. I've been reading a lot on the subject of children blogging, and technology in general. Should blogging be something you're considering allowing your child to do, this article provides some benefits, as well as tips on how to keep your child safe online whilst blogging:

http://weblogs.about.com/od/startingablog/i/KidsBlogging.htm

I may well let my children blog once they are older, as there are undoubtedly success stories.  I'm sure many of these kids will be at an advantage when the job hunting stage comes, due to what they have learned through blogging. The London School of Economics estimated in 2010 that 11% of European children who used the internet, wrote a blog. That figure will certainly be higher now. I was surprised by those figures, I thought it was very rare for young children to be interested in blogging, but clearly I was wrong. The Telegraph had an interesting article with information on some blogs by children, including "Jake's Bones", a blog by an 11 year old who hunts for bones with his dad. Jake researches his findings, and then blogs about them. Clearly there are children with interests which merit encouraging a blog, they don't just simply want to write about their favourite TV programs, music etc. The article can be found here:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/social-media/9929832/Meet-the-children-blogging-about-their-world.html

Blogging, therefore, if supervised, does seem like a sensible thing to allow children to do, once they reach the age deemed appropriate by their parents. However, like many parents, I am delighted by what my children can learn from the internet, but also terrified of it. The news is full of cyber-bullying, with children tragically taking their own lives. Thankfully, I'm not at the iphone stage yet, otherwise I think I would constantly be snooping on my kids to make sure they were not victims of such a serious problem. An article I found very interesting was on the Empowering Parents site. The article explains the reasons why cyber-bullying can be so much more serious than traditional bullying. You can read advice on how to spot the signs of a child being bullied online, as well as how to handle the situation. The link can be found here:

http://www.empoweringparents.com/blog/technology-and-kids/cyberbullying-what-all-parents-should-know/#

I am definitely a parent who sees pros and cons to modern technology. Apart from the online safety issues, I do not like the way it is affecting families in a negative way. Parents are too often distracted by mobiles, or i-pads, and children are missing out on valuable family time as a result. Worryingly, according to a Telegraph article, schools in the UK will soon be issuing an advice leaflet to parents explaining how important their role is in helping children develop speaking and listening skills. The reason this is thought to be necessary, is that parents are "prioritising mobile phones and television over traditional family conversations". I find it very sad that technology is deemed to have had such an adverse effect on young children's development. The link can be found here:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10307853/Parents-told-turn-off-phones-and-talk-to-your-children.html

I wonder how many have the same conflicting views on the benefits of modern technology? Would you allow your child to blog, and if so, at what age? Does cyber-bullying worry you, and how do you keep track of your child's online activities? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Finally, I'll leave you with an article about a family who decided to revert back to a 1986 lifestyle. The McMillans have banned modern technology for one year, in an attempt to bring their family closer together. I admire their dedication, they even have eighties haircuts to make their experience seem accurate! The McMillans have taken things to the extreme by cutting out modern technology entirely, but I do think they have the right idea. There has to be the right balance, between technology, and making sure you have enough quality family time...minus the ringtones.

http://www.today.com/moms/parenting-its-1986-couple-bans-modern-tech-inspire-kids-8C11111429

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