By Holly Seddon, editor-in-chief of Quibly
It’s highly likely that under almost every Christmas tree across Nappy Valley, there will be a collection of digital gadgets and battery-operated gizmos. Maybe even a big fat game console or two… Follow these tips to make sure that your kids can have as much fun as possible, while staying safe.
1. Safe gaming
If your children are lucky enough to be opening a new console this Christmas, make sure that you’re up to speed on what else it can do besides play games. All the major consoles allow web browsing, and many allow chat (voice and text) among friends. For younger kids, be sure to set up a parental account and set the restrictions so that you have to approve any ‘friend’ connections and control web browsing.
For the Wii and Wii U: http://www.nintendo.com/consumer/systems/wii/en_na/ht_settings.jsp
2. Picking the right games
It’s so tempting to cave into pressure and buy games that are rated older than your children’s ages. Ratings relate to content and some of the biggest titles on the market right now – Grand Theft Auto 5[http://quib.ly/qu/is-grand-theft-auto-5-suitable-for-a-teenager], the Call of Duty range [http://quib.ly/qu/should-a-13-year-old-boy-be-allowed-call-of-duty] and Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag – are all rated 18 plus due to their violent content.
3. Switch off multi-player functions
As well as violent and sexual content, what’s often overlooked is the multiplayer functions of these games. Even if you feel your child can unpick fantasy violence from real life, real life bullying and inappropriate experiences are a risk.
Quibly e-safety expert, James Diamond[http://quib.ly/users/jamesdiamond], says: “If left unmonitored [multiplayer gaming] could potentially do more harm than the violence and language of the single-player game. Online gaming can be a pretty brutal place, and unfortunately cyberbullying from strangers and peers is becoming more and more common.”
4. Mobile safety
If your tween or teen is getting a very small, very expensive box with a mobile phone in it this Christmas, make sure you arm yourself with knowledge first. Do any of us use our phones for calls any more? Smartphones are our diaries, web browsers, address book and social networks. And the same is true of our kids, except with an awful lot more chat. As well as making sure you’re aware of which social networking apps are pre-loaded on to the phone, familiarise yourself with social chat apps like WhatsApp and Kik. These are the main route of communication for many tweens and teens. To find out more, see Quibly’s guides:
5. Add a little tech free time
The gadgets available to kids and teenagers are mind-blowing compared to our own childhoods. At Quibly, we celebrate all the opportunities this brings. From amazing educational content, to world-shrinking connections and routes to creativity never before available. But tech isn’t the be all and end all, and for the sake of their eyes, behaviour and becoming well-rounded people, a little bit of time off the tech is essential too. For them and for us… Whether you opt for the full tech detox [http://quib.ly/qu/should-your-family-take-a-tech-detox] or just monitor screen time [http://quib.ly/search/?query=screen+time] Christmas is the ideal time to enjoy some good old-fashioned analogue fun too!
For expert advice on mobile and gaming safety, and great ideas for gifts your kids will love, visit Quibly [www.quib.ly]