Satisfying your curiosity correctly!

Satisfying your curiosity correctly!

It is dreadfully difficult to battle the temptation to spy on your children when they have left their laptop or computer on. You persuade yourself that no possible harm could come from glancing, ever so quickly, into the cyber world of your youngsters. Maybe you have done it, and not felt guilty about it. A little bewildered maybe, but not guilty… Parents generally know where their kids are each day, and what they plan to do. However, when it comes to their children’s “online lives”, parents have been reduced to the role of spectator. Technology today has a big part to do with the life of a youngster. It influences their education, social life and friendships, yet parents still cannot regulate what their children are doing online. Society has a drinking age and a driving age, but there’s no concrete insight on the age children can safely go online unaccompanied, or communicate to a friend via mobile phone. So, what about the role of parents? Should tabs be kept on their children? Nowadays, children are heard laughing over a video on youtube or are just using the Internet to discover a treasure trove of knowledge. Gone are the days were children would ask their mother’s to help out with a history project or use an encyclopedia to retrieve information. Mothers also used to overhear their children’s phone conversations with their friends, however, for today’s children, so much communicating goes on silently, via e-mails, social networks and text messages, which is all out of parent’s range. Parents’ want and need to know what their children are up to, and up...
Have we forgotten our teenage years? by Mikela Fenech Pace

Have we forgotten our teenage years? by Mikela Fenech Pace

Our instant chats were notes we would exchange at school – I recently found a few and discovered the pains of my teenage years, horrified at how my judgement see-sawed from day to day and what complexes plagued me during my final school years. Not to mention my diary which I have promised my kids I will allow them to read when they are older. The truth is our children are no different to us growing up. The only difference is that their means to communicate has changed. The stuff they write about is the same, their attitudes similar and their craving for being accepted a fact of life. Whilst in many ways easier today, the downside is one very simple notion – What goes online stays online forever. Whilst us parents have the wisdom of knowing this and thus measure our words online, our children are freer and often do not have the capacity to weigh the long-term consequences. Flicking through the notes I used to write to my friends and their responses it would indeed be difficult to imagine them being there online. They represent a girl I was but do not recognise. In many ways I feel quite sad as to the difficulties I must have had dealing with myself, my siblings, my parents and my peers, yet happy to know that it is a phase all children have to go through. We often forget how difficult teenage years are. Inherently they represent the in-between phase between childhood and adulthood. It’s a time for self-discovery and adventure. It is also a rough emotional time and a...
Electronic devices: the back-breaking facts-by Physiotherapist Carolyn Cassano

Electronic devices: the back-breaking facts-by Physiotherapist Carolyn Cassano

Gone are the days when kids spend their free time playing hopscotch and catch or kicking a ball in the garden. The new generation of youngsters have become increasingly reliant on smartphones, tablets and computers for a lot of their entertainment. The fact that kids are spending prolonged periods of time hunched over their electronic devices means that they are developing a forward head posture, which health professionals are referring to as ‘iposture syndrome’. If the head shifts in front of the shoulders, as is happening with this posture, the weight of the head increases, and the muscles of the upper back and neck need to work much harder to support it, leading to pain and muscle strain . This is a relatively new complaint and as a result young kids are presenting with physical injuries usually seen in adults. Kids as young as 5 are developing chronic neck and back pain and early signs of spine curvature from hunching over their gadgets. Osteopathy Australia‘s Dr Nahla Khraim has been in practice for 23 years and is seeing more and more parents bring in children for treatment. “Over the past five years children as young as three and four are coming to clinics with postural problems or back pain. It used to be when they were teenagers,” she says. “It’s difficult not to make a connection between smartphone development and the younger age of kids coming in with postural problems.” In children, the musculoskeletal system is still developing, and so pain related to computer usage can have serious consequences. Many kids sit in awkward positions whist using their gadgets, such...
5 ways of using technology to stimulate speech & language development- by Veronica Montanaro

5 ways of using technology to stimulate speech & language development- by Veronica Montanaro

‘There’s an app for that’……Anyone who knows me would have heard me use that phrase at some point or other. It crops up in conversations about baking, teaching, work or about life in general. Having studied the way young children learn how to use an iPad, I am not surprised that I am associated with touch-screen technology. It is very common for people look in my direction when they say the words tablet, touch screen or app. I am often greeted with ‘I found a really good app…..’. There is no doubt that I am passionate about the potential that technology has for children to learn the colours, vocabulary, puzzles, animal sounds, alphabet and songs. There are over 650,000 educational applications available on the iTunes store with thousands of apps are added each week. However, one of my great concerns is that a child is given a tablet, with one of these great applications, and he or she sits alone with no interaction, other than with the machine itself. As a speech and language pathologist I am particularly interested in children’s speech and language development. So here are a few tips that you can use to help your child’s speech and language development when using tablets. Turn taking is the root of communication. Turn taking is in everything we do and say. Any app can be shared in this manner. “It’s your turn. It’s my turn.”  Some children are possessive over the tablet and do not want to share their screen time with anyone. Using this approach will teach your child that you are not going to take the tablet away from them...
On Facebook you are giving yourself away completely

On Facebook you are giving yourself away completely

I didn’t come up with the title for this article. Nor is it quoted from some expert on social media. The statement was made by a 13-year-old Maltese boy who took part in a study by EU Kids Online and the London School of Economics and Political Science, involving 9-16 year olds in nine European countries, including Malta. The results of the study “The meaning of online problematic situations for children”, which have just been published, sheds important light on how children perceive potential risks and negative experiences on internet and how they react to them. The study concludes that “Overall, the most common online problematic situation includes the sending of content that is violent, vulgar, or sexual. Other problematic situations include perpetrating, experiencing, and/or witnessing hateful, vulgar, or nasty messages. Although less covered in the risk literature, some involve being killed, cursed, excluded, and/or verbally assaulted in online games. Lastly, some include meeting online peers offline, sending “friend” requests or communicating with strangers not their own age.” Maltese children are aware of internet addiction but have no qualms in accessing illegal content and downloading illegal games, software, videos and music as they don’t see any harm in it. The role of the mass media in reporting stories about dangers and the consequences of negative experiences online is revealed quite clearly as children tend to get influenced by the media’s sensationalism in cases such as ‘stranger danger’ which they are less likely to experience. Prevention seems to be favoured more than support-seeking by the interviewed children, and girls are more likely to seek social support than boys. The study makes...
Stay safe, have fun, enjoy sport!

Stay safe, have fun, enjoy sport!

“I love playing football because it is fun”. This was one of the most popular responses children gave in a recent national survey conducted by The Football Association. The internet has become part of the social fabric and the way it is used can affect a child’s safety as well as the level of enjoyment the child gets out of sport. Take the example of John* a 13-year old boy with a proud father who wanted to further his son’s football career. In his determination for John to join a professional academy, the father used a social media website to promote his son to clubs and their scouting network. This may seem innocuous enough as it showcased John’s considerable talent through videos and photos. However, the information uploaded led to the child being groomed by an adult posing as a scout. As a result John was placed at risk of significant harm which had a direct impact on his ability to enjoy the beautiful game of football. Parents, coaches and children need a safe way of communicating. This ensures that not only are the rights of the child being safeguarded but also that the necessary messages are getting through. Having the ability to communicate effectively can improve players’ and parents’ sense of belonging to a particular club and can also enhance coaching techniques. Social media can also encourage team spirit but this is an area where additional parental supervision may be required. Children on the same team can form groups on social media websites to discuss games and build a positive sense of belonging. Adult monitoring is necessary to...