22nd January 2018
In a roundabout way last week it came to my attention that one of our pupils may have unrestricted access to the Internet. This could lead to a whole lot of problems for this child, parents etc. It can also expose children to the unwanted attention of online predators. I do not believe anyone is truly aware of the potential repercussions of not monitoring underage internet access. We do our bit (supported by PA) in keeping tabs on children in school, and to some extent children outside school. However, there is some poor parenting and lack of monitoring going on in this community, and indeed in all Irish communities. Personally I would say that the majority of children are not mature enough to have and to manage a smart phone. The majority also need very close online monitoring. Even then children can be exposed to online issues, if in the care of less engaged adults or in the company of children with unrestricted access. Here is one simple suggestion for parents: Family Link. It is an app that supports monitoring of children’s internet access and rather than describe myself I am quoting from an article on the RTE website:
Parents and guardians will be able to control children's smartphone and tablet use more closely from today following the launch of Google's Family Link service in Ireland. Family Link enables a parent to connect their Android phone or iPhone to their children's Android phone or tablet and manage remotely what the child can then do. Among the functions is the ability to allow or prevent a child from downloading and using specific apps and visiting particular websites. The parent can also monitor the amount of screen time that the young person is getting and set a bedtime for the device. The smartphone or tablet can also be locked remotely when the parent wants their child to focus on studying, playing, sleeping or some other task. The location of the device can also be tracked and certain settings governing the child's access to Google and the Android operating system can be changed using the app. Although it is possible for a parent to manage what social media and messaging app a child is using via Family Link, they cannot see what messages the child is posting or sending. To use the service the child must have a device that is running Android Nougat 7.0 or later. The parent then downloads the Family Link app to their Android or iOS device and creates a Google Account for their child. From there the parent can then link to the child's device and take control. Family Link was launched in the US earlier this year and is also available in New Zealand. "Our goal with Family Link is to help parents and children explore technology and the digital world together, while making it easier for them to discover, create and share as a family," said Fionnuala Meehan, Head of Google Ireland.
The Family Link app is free to download but with a charge of 30c on registration for verification purposes in order to force the parent to explicitly give their consent to using it.
In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing. Theodore Roosevelt