Tech and online safety during lockdown by Adele Jennings

Parent and Internet Matters blogger Adele Jennings, shares her experience of how her two children are spending their time online and also shares her thoughts about online safety for children.

Whether you’re embracing lockdown, or feel like it’s groundhog day and have no idea what day it is, you might even be managing to get your children to change out of their pyjamas. Big tick for that one if you are, because I’m not.
Are your kids doing great with their school work? Or maybe you can’t get your child to do any home learning.

You may have made and eaten your body weight in banana bread like me, but however we cope with lockdown, we all have one thing in common…spending more time online.
As we get into a routine of sorts, now is a really good time to find out what your child likes to do online and talk to them about online safety.

The wonderful world of online has made it possible for us to keep in touch with, and see the faces of our family and friends. To be able to work from home and inevitably have our children pop up behind us when we are on a video meeting, yes, this has also happened to me, we have been able to feel like we are together, even though we are apart.

What our homeschooling looks like during lockdown

We’ve been doing some home learning, although I don’t know about you it is difficult to get my nine-year-old son, Jacob, to put his iPad down.
The world of online has become our lifeline at the moment for all of us staying at home. We rely on it to do our work and homeschooling during these uncertain times.

Can you imagine what it would be like if we didn’t have the internet!

I’m juggling working full time at home, while my husband Mark, who’s a teaching assistant is working at school once a week.
Jacob’s school has been brilliant, they have sent worksheets and given us access to Purple Mash, a school online learning website. We have also enjoyed learning on BBC Bitesize Daily, which is available online, on Player, and on the red button.

Teachers, I take my virtual hat off to you, teaching is hard, luckily, there are so many great online resources to help.

Virtual meet ups

The world of online for children is part of their daily lives already, it is more unusual for us parents. Had anyone even heard of Zoom before this pandemic? And while our children cannot go to school at the moment, the internet still gives them access to friends, family and learning.

We have been on Zoom and Facebook Messenger talking to my family during lockdown and I have been using Google Hangouts for work meetings. It’s great to see people’s faces and have that human interaction when we can’t go out, even though sometimes they may look like a Minecraft character due to poor signal.

How my kids are spending their downtime with tech

Our daughter, Amber, is 16 years old, so she is one of the many students who won’t be sitting her GCSE exams this year, she feels in a bit of limbo at the moment.

She is filling her time playing on her Xbox and chatting with her friends on Xbox Live. And she has discovered a love of Minecraft again. She also talks to school friends through FaceTime, Whatsapp, Snapchat and Instagram. As she won’t be having a school prom, she decided to do her hair and makeup as if she was going, she put on her beautiful prom dress and shared pictures on Instagram.

I thought this would be a good time to spend with my children finding out what they like to play online. It was great to sit with Amber and watch her be creative on Minecraft.

Jacob enjoys watching craft videos on YouTube and making lots of things out of cardboard, drawing pictures, and also watching his favourite YouTubers and playing online games.

He has got back into playing Roblox, so I have enjoyed watching him play there. He likes to tell me what he is doing. The one thing I am really pleased with is that both my children have played together on the Xbox. This is as rare as buying flour and eggs at the moment.

Amber dug out our old Xbox Kinect that has been gathering dust for a while. It is a little device that allows you to play games with your hands on the screen.
They had great fun dancing around together, getting some exercise in the process. And we’ve been learning some of the dances on TikTok, which is great fun.

Staying safe online

This is a great time to talk to your children about their online lives and make sure they stay safe while playing and chatting to friends. And a perfect time to check all the parental controls and restrictions are set for the appropriate age groups.
We know we have to stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives, this is a good way to keep our children safe.

For help and advice about online safety for kids, check out:

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