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Guidelines for family-friendly technology use

From laptops to smartphones to gaming consoles, the technology we use is affecting how we live in profound ways - for both good and ill.

A few simple changes in the way you approach technology can help you enjoy all its benefits and keep your family safe from its worst effects.

Parents must use their own judgement and common sense, but below are some suggestions for a healthier relationship with technology.

Internet safety and health experts advise setting clear rules and procedures for children such as the following:

  • Limit your child's daily 'screen time' to under two hours and ensure they get adequate levels of exercise and outdoor play.
  • Minimise mobile phone use by under-16's.
  • Have a family-wide 'technology ban' - including TV, texting and the internet - for at least two hours every evening so everyone gets to chat, play and relax together without technological distractions.
  • When choosing the inevitable gaming console, pick one that requires full body movement and can give some level of exericse, such as the Nintendo Wii.  Use should nontheless be limited carefully.
  • Ask your child to tell you immediately if they ever experience cyber bullying or hostile text messages.
  • Use effective internet filtering software to protect against unsuitable content being accessed.
  • Keep your internet-connected computer in a family room with the screen facing outward so it can be supervised.
  • Only use child-friendly search engines like kids.yahoo.com and askkids.com.
  • Avoid having TV's or computers in the child's bedroom.
  • Asking your child to tell you if they accidentally visit unsuitable websites, so you can block them.
  • Let children know that it's never okay to use or receive abusive or threatening language in an online forum.
  • Children must take breaks from the computer every 30 minutes.
  • Tell children never to download unknown files from the internet without your permission.
  • Never arrange to meet an online friend in person without your knowledge and permission.
  • Never to respond to unsolicted messages or spam.
  • Not to give out information as to age and gender, or any personal information especially address, registration details and bank details.
  • Never visit online chat rooms that are not fully moderated or supervised.
  • Parents should be aware of their own internet use and how it may affect their relationships with other family members of the family.
  • Parents should report any potentially illegal content to www.hotline.ie

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