#Talkb4Sharing

#Talkb4Sharing

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter, WhatsApp, Discord… it seems that as the internet continues to grow, it is becoming more and more focused on the sharing of photos. In addition to this, as the smartphones in our pockets continue to have better and better cameras built into them, all of us are becoming photojournalists with almost every moment of our lives being published to a potentially international audience.

This, in turn, creates a minefield for parents and young people to navigate that is something that today’s parents (like me), largely missed while we grew up. While our children will likely be far better at parenting through this issue because of growing up through it, we need to think a little harder and be a little more deliberate in our approach to this selfie and photo saturated world.

Taking photos of your children create great opportunities, not only to capture memories but also to teach them about consent and respect online. It gives us as parents the opportunity to have a conversation about why we would want to share their photos and also to talk about where the photos will go and what the potential consequences are. By having these conversations often and early, we can help children and young people develop an awareness of some of the strengths and pitfalls of having their images online. As we model the courtesy of asking before we share their image online, we also need to model not sharing if our children say “no”. While this can be frustrating hopefully, this will become part of the way our children approach online images so that they can be a little more careful about the way they share their own or their friends images online.

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner recommends the following steps that you can take to reduce the possibility of exposure to harm.

1. Avoid sharing photos and videos that contain personal details, such as full names, personal contact information, or uniforms that identify location.

2. Avoid adding comments to photos that identify locations, e.g. street address, the name of the school your child is attending, or even identifying features in front of your home.

3. Only share with people who you really know and trust. Rather than posting to all of your friends on social media, be selective and use the privacy settings on your social media platform. Also, be aware that if one of your friends likes your picture, it may also become visible to their friends. If you’re not comfortable with this, you might reconsider how you share your child’s image.

4. Always check with other parents before posting and sharing images which include their children.

5. Be mindful of metadata—most digital photos contain information about the time, date and GPS coordinates of where the photo was taken. Some social media platforms automatically hide or remove this data, so do your homework and know how much info you’re sharing.

For more helpful information about the digital environment and how to help your child have safe and enjoyable online experiences visit iParent.

 

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#Talkb4Sharing

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What’s all the fuss about Fortnite?

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What’s all the fuss about Fortnite?

What’s all the fuss about Fortnite?

“Fortnite is the worst thing on the planet right now!”
“Settle down, it’s just another fad, give it time – it’ll blow over.”

Gaming always polarises people. For most people, it’s either ban it or be cool about it. ‘Fornite’ is now the most popular game on the planet and the same arguments are going around. My take on it comes from a few perspectives: media effects theories, brain science, over 15 years of teaching experience and 16 years of parenting.

What do studies say about gaming and its effect on young people?

Theorists have looked at media effects for over a century now and have come to some very grounded conclusions about any type of media and how it affects us. In the early days, many believed what is known as the Hypodermic Needle theory of media effects. In all communication theories, there is a sender (the media form) and a receiver (the audience). In the case of the Hypodermic theory, there was a belief that the message would directly affect the receiver, like a hypodermic needle injecting the message into the brain.

This was debunked early on because they realised that it was ridiculous to say that audiences believe and act on everything that they see on television or other media. However, it would appear that the media still has some influence because the advertising industry has built its success on something. So, after a number of years, theorists eventually developed theories to identify how the media does influence audiences and to what extent.

The Reinforcement theory said that the media reinforces your currently held beliefs and the Agenda-setting function theory states that the media can’t tell you what to think, but can set the agenda for what you think about.

When it comes to video games the answer isn’t a simple one where we can link games directly to violence or other societal evils. The Reinforcement theory would indicate that some people already predisposed to a particular behaviour will be influenced more strongly by that behaviour.  The Agenda-setting theory would also indicate that if we allow the media through children’s use of technology at a young age to set the agenda for what they think about – they’ll think about it.

What about the brain science?

Brain science is a very new field in the sciences because its only in the last 10-15 years that our technology has enabled us to delve deeper into how the brain works and more longitudinal studies have been made available. There are a number of areas we could cover in relation to Fortnite and other games, but the main ones are the management of dopamine and the development of executive function in children and adolescents.

Unless there have been dramatic changes to teacher education in the last few years, all teachers are required to take a psychology unit at university to better understand a child’s psychological development. Part of those studies include developmental psychology that tells us that there are physical changes that occur in the brain from childhood to adolescence. Less has been said about changes from adolescence to adulthood.

These ideas basically tell us that, in the area of executive function, children can’t physically think like adolescents and adolescents can’t think like adults. It’s physiologically impossible. Executive function is formed in the frontal lobe of the brain and is responsible for decision-making. The reason teenagers more easily take risks is due to an underdeveloped frontal lobe that can’t foresee consequences as well as an adult. These fully form sometimes into people’s 30’s, so it’s not necessarily linked just to adolescents.

Pair this with a video game and you have a recipe for very unhealthy behaviour because the game is here and now, it’s fun and there couldn’t possibly anything bad that could happen. As a matter of fact, I’m not even considering anything beyond ‘this game is fun and you’re spoiling my fun if I can’t play now.’

Enter dopamine. This is the chemical your body uses to make you feel pleasure. The brain science on this one is that the more you try and get a thrill and activate it, the more dopamine is released. The brain can’t be on a constant thrill ride, just like you feel tired after a burst of adrenaline, it has to recover or compensate. It creates a dopamine barrier so that it takes more effort to release the dopamine. More excitement is needed like the next great game or the next new thing and the cycle continues.

The downside of this is the person wants to feel more dopamine and therefore needs more to release it. The cycle ends with addiction to dopamine and the only solution is to take away the thing causing the addiction until the person is free from its hold.

So what’s my take away on Fortnite?

I personally think it’s like every other game and fad, it will come and go and it contains all the usual problems listed above. There are a few interesting things to consider about this one:

  • They now are offering cash prizes in each of their new seasons of the game, this is generally for career gamers – you can read more in  this article from Fortune
  • Children (and adults) who play Fornite are purchasing V-bucks with real money so that they can buy purely cosmetic upgrades to their characters. This sends the wrong message on multiple levels.
  • It looks like a fun game and there are some articles out there that would suggest playing it with your children. This can either make it uncool because you’re playing it, or help you connect with your kids – two quite good outcomes – just don’t get addicted yourself! I probably would, so I’m steering clear of it.

My final word on the issue is that, academically and in life, time management is a skill that demands constant attention. This requires delayed gratification which is excellent character development for anyone.

Games like Fortnite, or any other new online fad, take a sledgehammer to time management and delayed gratification. If we want to build good character in our children, we need to make sure that their focus is on being producers in our society and not consumers.

Time is our most precious commodity and we can either use it to enhance our lives and the lives of others or squander it. I’m pretty sure we’d have some excellent solutions to our world’s problems if we didn’t spend as much time on Netflix and every other time-waster the Internet has brought us.

Proverbs 21:5 (NLT) says “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.”

On a lighter note, here’s some mums who thought they’d have some fun with the way their kids behave when playing Fortnite – enjoy.

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We are eSmart!

This week I got an email that started with the line “We are very proud to announce that King’s Christian College has now attained eSmart Status! This is a wonderful achievement.” The email was from eSmart Schools, an initiative of the Allanah and Madeline Foundation and endorsed by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. While this may not seem like much, let me explain just a little of the significance.

Two years ago, a couple of our staff, Mr Galer and Mr Vallance, went to a Professional Development day where they were first introduced to the eSmart framework. They were already aware of some of the dangers of the internet and were determined to continue to develop a system at King’s to both protect and educate our students about the smart, safe and responsible use of technology. However, that day opened their eyes to the magnitude of this never-ending task.

From that day until today, and continuing into the future, King’s staff have used the eSmart framework as a guideline to growing in this area. We have refined existing policy and procedures as well as developing new strategies to better protect and educate our students and wider King’s Community in the area of eSafety. My position, as eSafety coordinator was created; Staff have had professional development; Students have engaged in various learning opportunities and forums; This Innovation Hub was developed; King’s Concern was launched; Parents and other stakeholders have been given the opportunity to attend seminars with internationally renowned speakers such as Susan McLean and Brad Huddleston, and to have a voice in our ongoing eSafety conversations.

As we continue to refine and develop strategies in this area and continue to educate and protect our students, we are grateful that you, as King’s parents, are willing to partner with us in this as we strive for a new normal. A normal where the Smart, Safe and Responsible use of technology is as commonplace as “please” and “thank you” when you go to dinner at Nanna’s.

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Children with Internet-connected and camera-enabled devices can often be caught out when the technology outranks their maturity and their ability to see the future consequences of their actions.

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"Fortnite is the worst thing on the planet right now!""Settle down, it's just another fad, give it time - it'll blow over." Gaming always polarises people. For most people, it's either ban it or be cool about it. 'Fornite' is now the most popular game on the planet...

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Parental controls at home

Setting Internet controls on your home router

Most newer upgrades to Internet routers in the home have the inclusion of some basic parental controls to filter out content at home. You can also set up timed Internet allowances by device.

As you can see in the example on this page, I’ve added a scheduled setting to cut the Internet to Bruce’s iPad at 7pm so that no Internet is accessed after dinner. I can make as many of these schedules as I like across devices and if needed switch everything off I could do this via the tick box at the top.

To see if you can access these settings consult your Internet Service Provider or your documentation for the device that brings the Internet into your home. They will give you an IP address to connect to the router in the form of 4 sets of digits separated by a full stop – eg. “10.10.10.10”.

You will then be prompted for a username and password (provided by the ISP or in your documentation) – once you are through you just need to look around the page for parental controls. These will generally be as simple as blocking websites and maybe filtering keywords.