Niall Mulrine

Some parental tips to reduce children’s device time

OK there you are sitting at the dinner table and you are suddenly wondering why the table conversation has been drowned out by the noise of a monotonous monotone voice of the most popular virtual kid’s friend, Stampy!
Why can’t I communicate with my kids without getting Stampy interrupting me?
Am I so out of touch that Stampy has more important topics to talk to my kids than me? Is Stampy the primary educator and conversationalist in my house?
Or am I too old school to be complaining about the use of technology in my children’s lives?
Digital Natives rather online talk over face to face
Just because majority of today’s parents are from the 20th Century era and had not really being immersed in technology in comparison to the children that enter the 21st Century.
Children as young as minus 6 months old have a digital footprint already carved out! Only yesterday a friend informed of how they discovered that a mutual friend we share, is now on a journey of motherhood.
Not only did I learn she was going to be a mother, but also a mother to twins!
The sonogram give the little picture of happiness on a Facebook page that was shared to her 350 something online friends.
The image was then shared 6 times, Liked 55 times and then had approx. 78 comments underneath to congratulate the excited mother to be.
That has suddenly exploded from a potential 350 people seeing the photo to a potential 14,250 basing on average of 100 friends per user!!
Are you a Sharent?
Am I exaggerating? I think not. A mutual friend of a friend, told me of the situation where her 3 month old child’s picture ended up on someone’s Facebook wall in another country who had no relation or connection with the child or child’s family.
When the parent found out, they contacted the person who uploaded the Facebook image and asked them to take down.
No response came back from the Facebook user nor did they remove picture.
The parent then aware of what can happen when sharing too many pictures of their child, immediately deleted all photos of the child from her Facebook page.
But if you remember the old saying “Once you post, you cannot delete” syndrome, the pictures are removed from her Facebook, but what about all the interactions on each image when people shared, liked and commented.
These images are still out there on the web.
Kettle calling the Pot black
So whilst we are sharing everything online ourselves, is there any wonder that our kids are doing the same?
When they share too much and something goes wrong, child comes to you and confides in you and wants direction, what do we do?
Most definitely as a parent we will try to fix the issue and help them move on, but when all dust settles, the parent will chastises the child on why they thought it a good idea to share so many pictures and details online?
We blame the children for being too loose with information, we blame them for not thinking before posting, we blame them for putting up nasty comments and we blame them for all their negative qualities that does not sit right with us.
An old saying, when one finger is pointing outwards to blame, there are 3 pointing back at us.
But who should we be blaming? Yes you got it, its US!! Why?
Because we are our primary children’s educators and we need to think on how we teach our children to behave online.
A few simple tips for the Sharent
A few tips on how to curve your online usage so that the children can be led by example! Remember how you defend yourself on the witness box when your child turns to you, “it’s not fair I’m not allowed. Why are allowed to use the iPad all night?”
Read to your children at night
It’s advisable to calm the children down before bedtime and its also a great way to relax yourself also. This benefits both parties.
Put time restrictions on your own device use
Try keep an eye on how often you lift your phone out of your pocket and start using it or how often you are tempted to switch on the iPad. If you are finding it tough, guess who else does too?
Don’t have devices or TV at dinner table
Try to talk with your family at dinner table and give your children full power to scold you if you use your device at the table.
Don’t share too much information online
When posting online, remember not to put too much personal information up. It may come back to bite. Good Tip: Don’t use social media under influence of drink!!!
Don’t Talk ‘n’ drive
Guess who will use the phone to text and call when driving when they get their licence?
There is no easy magic bullet to for perfection and even though we may strive for it, the chances of succeeding is slim. Even God himself was not perfect, but making practise is fine. That keeps us on our toes. Children are the best teachers if we are able to listen. Watch and how they learn and react. We look to complication but sometimes the simplicity is all we need.

For more information & tips on Cyber Bullying & Internet Safety log on to or contact Niall Mulrine 086-2377033 if you wish to hear how you can have an Internet Safety workshop in your area.

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere

and get access to our archive editions dating back to 2007
Every Thursday
Every Monday

Donegal News is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. St. Anne's Court, Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland