National digital strategy announced for schools

Last week Minister Jan O’Sullivan T.D announced a new national digital strategy for schools. It’s the largest ever investment in digital technology in Irish schools to date.

The five year strategy lists a set of actions to be achieved, kicking off from the end of this year.

Youth Mental Health Sex Sexuality RelationshipsThe key points cover investment in schools, training for teachers and a strong component of ICT skills introduced into existing subjects, along with opportunities for in-depth stand-alone ICT classes in the senior cycle.

This is all fantastic, and as huge advocates for effective uses of technology, we at ReachOut Ireland applaud it.

Digital disconnect

What does this mean for parents who are already feeling a bit behind on the use of technology?

Where does this leave you trying to communicate with your child when they don’t look up from their phone or come straight in from school and turn on the computer, barely nodding at you?

Will this widen the digital disconnect between parents and children even more? How do you find out all that’s going on in your son or daughter’s online world?

Keeping up to date

There’s some advice out there about creating dummy profiles to spy on your children’s online behaviour, but the truth is, you will probably never be able to keep up.

The good news is old world rules still apply when it comes to communication and finding out what is going on for your son or daughter.

Communication is always important

Regular communication is important, not only so you can be aware of any changes in behaviour, but also to show an interest in what is generally happening in their lives.

If you think you might need to have a trickier conversation, there are different approaches you can take – some of these are outlined well here in a video we did with Dr John Sharry is a child and family psychotherapist.

Finding out about their online world

If you’re concerned about not understanding what your son or daughter is doing online and for how long, have the conversation with them. It sure isn’t all homework, but you can ask them about the networks and sites they spend their time on.

Start a conversation about something you read or saw in the news about a website or network, there will always be one!

Try to find out a bit about them first. We’ve outlined some of the most popular sites and apps here, how they work and how young people are using them.

Boundaries about online use

Set boundaries about the time they spend online. No phones in bed or at the dinner table, for example.

Young people do want and need boundaries. But make sure to include them in the process and in deciding what the consequences are, if rules are broken.

Technology is really everyone’s new toy, so if you are continuously on your phone or tablet that sets an example that is hard to break.

So time it could be a time to set a digital strategy for home too.