Keeping Kids Safe Online This Summer!

School is officially out for summer! Here’s hoping that long sunny days lie ahead. No matter what you can be sure that technology will play a part in everyone’s summer. So, here are some tips for what you can do to ensure that your child stays safe over the summer holidays, while they are spending some time online.

Here at Zeeko we regularly say that communication is key! There genuinely is no substitute for face to face open communication with your child when it comes to many elements of parenting but none more so than internet safety. It is a good idea to have a conversation as early as possible in the summer holidays with your child about you and your child’s expectations about the use of technology. Children can assume that now that they are finished school, that they can spend their increased free time online. This expectation will not always be matched by their parent! Negotiation will be central to what is agreed between you and your child about how the use of technology will be managed over the summer months. The following areas may be of help to you in supporting your child to stay safe online and achieving that all elusive balance.

Screentime: Remind your child of the importance of having a balance when it comes to the amount of time that they are spending online. At Zeeko we have pioneered the 5:1 Rule when it comes to screentime. This essentially means that for every hour that is spent on screens this should be balanced with 5 hours of ‘real world’ activities, preferably activities that involve some physical exercise. Also, it’s important that your child, switches off any screen at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light omitted by screens can affect the levels of melatonin in the brain which can affect things like concentration the following day. The temptation is always there, particularly during the holidays, to spend an increased amount of time on screens.

The Stop Block Tell Rule: It can be genuinely distressing for young children in particular, to encounter something age inappropriate or witness others being treated badly when they are online. Talk to your child about the importance of using the Stop, Block, Tell Rule if they do encounter something that upsets them. Stop what they are doing, block the person and/or conversation that has upset them, and finally tell a trusted adult what they have experienced. Talking about what has upset them will definitely make it less frightening. Let your child know that it is ok for them to talk about what they are experiencing when they are online. Having regular open conversations as a family about the internet is a great foundation for your child to learn that the digital world can be a great experience, but that they need to remember to stay safe.

Online Etiquette: Often the excitement of messaging, gaming, video and photo sharing can lead to children of a range of ages, not being as cautious as they would usually be when they are offline. Talk with your child about the importance of treating people the same when they are online as they would when they are not. Also remind them of the T-Shirt Rule, which is a great way of reinforcing the fact that what is shared online cannot be easily deleted or removed – don’t post anything that you wouldn’t be happy to wear on the front of a t-shirt! This certainly makes children and adults think twice about what they post online.

As we know from our work with primary and secondary schools throughout the year, the internet is a fantastic resource, but children do need support and guidance to learn how to safely navigate the online world, regardless of the time of year! Our team at Zeeko wish you all a fun filled and safe summer both on and offline!

For more information on keeping your child safe online check out Zeeko’s website https://zeeko.ie/

 

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Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.           

This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. 

What is infant mental health?

Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.

The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.

 

The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books (www.mychild.ie/books) and also on www.MyChild.ie  where key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.

 

In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of three eLearning units which are now available on HSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.  

 

Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)  

 

In addition The National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the www.mychild.ie website.

These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).

These new video resources are available here while lots more expert advice for every step of pregnancy, baby and toddler health can also be found at www.mychild.ie

There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from healthy.childhood@hse.ie

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