A headteachers union has asked families to think carefully about the electronic gadgets they give as gifts this Christmas. The NAHT union has suggested five ‘essential steps’ for families considering an internet-enabled gift. The suggestions include parents and carers making sure that their children feel confident they can talk to them if they are unsure about anything that happens online, and agreeing a set of family rules including around screen time. Parents and carers are also urged to check the capabilities of the devices their child uses, and be aware of and follow the age requirements of social media apps and games.

The guidelines were drafted in cooperation with Childnet International, a non-profit organisation working to make the internet a safe place for children. Will Gardner, Childnet CEO and Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre, said: ‘As we speak to thousands of young people each year, they tell us that they want their parents and carers to understand and support them as they navigate the digital world and having open, calm, regular conversations is key to this. We want to support and empower parents and carers to have these conversations, using giving new technology to their children as a great opportunity to do this.’

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, said: ‘We would never suggest that parents completely avoid buying smartphones, tablets or games consoles but we would urge them to think carefully about the right gift for their child and to talk to them about what boundaries and permissions will be set.’ Mr Whiteman continued: 'Totally unsupervised use, especially for younger or first-time users is not recommended. Families should avoid 'leaving children to their own devices'. Paretns and carers should be aware of what they are viewing and who they are interacting with.' 

Full NAHT guidelines: https://tinyurl.com/tyzdd57

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