So, our beautiful 12-year-old daughter is making the big leap to secondary school this week.
Her feelings are surprisingly calm and excited, ours are nerves and excitement.
I remember the move well myself. It was like a whole new world; a whole new life opened before me but there were rules that you had to learn fast.
Like what was cool and what was very uncool!
For example, on my very first day of secondary school, I wore the sleeveless jumper and that I quickly learnt, was very uncool.
The do’s and don’ts are a little different these days though and I would imagine technology has a part to play in that but how big of a part, I do not know (yet)!
It’s not as simple as turn on the restrictions on their phones because according to our little lady, when these are on she cannot communicate with her friends (an exaggeration I am sure).
However, these kids don’t seem to text or call people like we do, its all Snapchats and WhatsApp phone calls. So, with the restrictions turned on, these cannot work. Or maybe they can?
She basically said that we might as well take her phone away if we are going to turn on the restrictions, it's of no use to her.
So, then it becomes an issue of trust. Have we educated and informed her enough about the dangers online that we can trust she knows the do’s and don’ts of technology?
Can we put her safety out there and trust that she knows best?
Our 14-year-old is starting Junior cert this year and he has actually had a school iPad since First Year but her school does not.
It will be interesting to see both of their educations simultaneously and how the iPad benefits in contrast.
The iPad for him has most of his books downloaded on it so its fantastic in terms of not having to carry big books in every day. However, his school iPad, which was sold to us for academic use only, seems to be very good at showing Netflix and the dreaded Fortnight video game!
As parents, I think we have a big responsibility to keep on top of new apps that kids are using, we need to talk to other parents, we need to randomly check their phones and I think we need to make them realise that what you put online will be there forever and ever and ever. Most importantly, however, I think they need to know that they can and should come and talk to us if there is ever anything inappropriate or something that makes them feel uncomfortable. We want them to feel comfortable enough to come to us and know that they won’t get in trouble.
Our job is to try to keep these lines of communication open, always.