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Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

10 Pointers for Digital Usage During COVID-19 Quarantine

1 Mix Hands On Learning With Digital Learning

Digital learning platforms should not be mistaken as a total replacement for face to face learning. Once your child has completed online tasks, consider having them do practical hands-on learning activities that are also educational. For example, if they have completed a quiz online, follow-up by getting them to demonstrate that same work on pen and paper or even using everyday objects.

Many kids will still have to submit handwritten assignments or use handwriting for various examinations. Ensure that they also keep their penmanship skills sharp!




2 Create A Technology Plan Together As A Family

The internet is amazing for learning but there are distractions and dangers out there!

Setting up parental controls is essential, and enabling safe search on google is a great first step!

In these unprecedented times it’s important to maintain some sense of a normal school day, that means whatever websites not allowed during regular school aren’t allowed during the school day at home! Therefore boundaries need to be created.

However, don’t forget to talk with your child about internet safety.

It is one thing to add parental controls, filters, and settings, but having an open and honest conversation about being safe online will allow you to learn together and trust in their usage of devices and technology.

Setting internet time limits and sticking to them will help create a routine that the child will soon get used to. But it is best to create a plan together, decide what you both feel is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable online. Set expectations, teach your children about age restrictions and the apps they should or shouldn’t download. Explain that they need to get permission first.

3 Don’t Overshare On Social Media Or The Internet

Now that we’re probably going to be online more than the average day, we need to ensure privacy settings are limited only to trusted friends and family. This will keep you safe from prying eyes and cyber predators who often search the internet either looking for victims for social engineering scams or information on targets they have already chosen.

Be careful when online shopping. Phishing, spam and websites with malicious links are designed to steal your information. Enjoy a more secure online experience by ensuring legitimacy of websites and creating hard-to-crack passwords.

Also monitor online gaming. Many games have an online component featuring in-game add-ons that can be bought for real money. Parents should set up a specific email account for game registration purposes to ensure email accounts that hold addresses, contact information and social media or online banking information are kept separate

4 Download and Use Social Media Apps Together as a Family

Being stuck in the house together is a great time to learn about all of the apps your kids are using and download them yourself. It’s okay to be friends with your kids on these apps (and you should) but don’t overwhelm them by stalking their profiles or commenting on every post. Instead, ask them to teach you about the apps and collaborate with them on posts.

Being on the same apps your kids are on will help you to see if they are posting anything they shouldn’t be. Make note of who they are friends with and encourage them to steer clear of strangers on the apps. Have fun with your kids, but also strategically work to keep them safe at the same time.




5 Have Conversations With Your Kids About Digital Safety

We’re living in a time where practically every child has their own tablet, laptop, or of course, cellphone. Do not set your kids up for failure by making them unprepared for what they could end up seeing or how vulnerable they could become later on. The best conversations to have are surrounding what a computer virus is, online privacy, phishing and social networking etiquette, to name a few.

Young children, and even teenagers, should understand the importance of passwords and why they shouldn’t use the same one for all sites and what those consequences are if they don’t follow through.

The most important note for everyone is if you wouldn’t do it face to face, then don’t do it online. It’s as simple as that. Everything you do online is captured forever and will be used against you later on, even if it’s something you’ve forgotten about.

As employers and University Admission Officers research candidates through their social media accounts, your kids should be aware of what they’re putting online.

Lastly, make sure their devices have antivirus and anti-malware software.

6 Monitor Screen Habits, Even During Online Learning

Most parents are worried about excessive usage of the internet, too much screen time, and overexposure to social media. Parents can set a few rules for the safety of their kids.

Parents can choose to stay with their kids when taking any virtual classes to protect the security of their children against any unpleasant incidents.

While doing homework, students can be allowed to remain alone in front of the computer, but have that conversation about straying from work to watch music videos of go on social media.



7 Be Mindful Of Your Family’s Social Media Use

Any negative reaction to having screens taken away—anger, sadness, tantrums—are a good sign that your kid is spending too much time on them. In these cases, your kids’ screen time should be more limited. Be aware, this might mean that you need to adjust your own screen use, too!

Parents should stick to the rules they have set for kids in terms of which apps are and are not allowed. The world is not ending, it just seems that way. Behave accordingly. If you weren’t going to get your kid a smartphone or use a specific app until next year, then wait until next year.

Parents must take their own frequent breaks from screens. It might work to set family rules and schedules for screen and non-screen activities and stick to them as best as possible. The closer you stick to your rules, the easier it will be for your kids.

It’s also important for kids to learn that there are different rules for them and for adults. Because of their jobs, parents might have to spend time on screens when kids can or should not. Parents must recognize this and might have to work extra hard reinforcing their kids for staying off their own screens in these cases. There might be a Candy Land, Snakes N Ladders, or Monopoly marathon in your future.

Be intentional about screen time. Especially when we’re forced to be apart from one another, use screens together as a family to stay in touch with friends and family. Screens are a valuable resource these days, and you now have a valuable opportunity to teach your kids the power and responsibility that come with screen access.

To combat anxiety and depression, it is vital for everyone in the house to get up and move and to spend some face time with each other. Now is a perfect opportunity to start a tradition of first-thing-in-the-morning family exercise and to return to sit-down family dinners.

8 Monitor All Uses of Electronics In The House, Including School Activities

Be aware of what your child’s school is assigning. This will help you determine how much time is actually needed on a device for school work each day. Monitor your child’s electronic usage. Periodically checking on your child while he or she is doing school work will help keep your child working productively.

Learn what parental controls are available on your child’s device and set them to limit screen usage when possible. Have your kids check in their devices to you after school work is done and in the evenings. Kids can only use a device if they have access to it. If you put the device somewhere safe when you don’t want it used, your child will have to find something else to do. Also, making sure your child doesn’t have access to a device at night will help ensure they get a good night’s sleep.

What can your child do when he or she isn’t spending so much time on electronics? Here are some suggestions on activities for kids to do at home:

-Get outside. Fresh air and sunlight boost mood. Whether you have a backyard or a park down the street, you can get outside while still practicing social distancing. A bike ride, hike, or game of cricket can be a great activity for kids of any age.

–Be creative. Get out paper and crayons and color a picture. Build a creation out of Lego blocks. Make a movie or write a story.

-Learn a new skill. Children can learn a variety of different skills that will help them throughout their lives. Kids of any age can learn how to play an instrument, perform household chores, or help with cooking or baking!

9 Find Positive Ways To Use Technology

Technology isn’t always bad, especially when it’s used to contact family, research future careers or take a virtual tour of a land far away. There are many online museums that can give you a virtual tour!

Whether it’s their favorite cousin or their Grandparents, encourage your child and family to video chat with family. This will not only cheer up your family, but lift the spirits of those that you’re calling. It’s much more effective than sending a generic WhatsApp greeting image.




10 Be Proactive Against Eye Strain And Bad Sleeping Habits

There are physical issues that can come from too much computer screen time. For example, digital eye strain from not blinking and not having your work space set up properly. Symptoms of digital eye strain can be dry eyes, itchy eyes, blurry vision, and headaches. Your screen brightness should be set similar to your surrounding environment. Glare contributes to eyestrain. Using a matte screen can be helpful if you find that glare is an issue and cannot reposition the computer.

But most important for eyestrain is not blinking enough. Focusing on the computer screen intently causes us to not blink as often as usual. We will blink 10 to 12 times per minute instead of 15. This may not sound like a huge difference, but that’s all it takes to cause eyestrain. After a while our eyes may feel dry or unfocused. When this reduced blinking goes on all day our eyes dry out and cannot recover until they are replaced by sleeping at night. In the morning you’ll feel comfortable again.

There are a couple of things you can do that help reduce eyestrain. One is to follow the 20-20-20 rule. Look away from your screen at something that is 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. You can set a timer to remind children to look away from their computer at a certain object. Using eye drops can also help.

Difficulty sleeping can result from too much blue light from the computer screen in the evening hours. Blue light from the sun keeps us awake during the day but can affect our circadian rhythm at night. It is recommended to halt screen time one to two hours before bedtime. In addition, there are apps for your phone and computer that can be set to automatically reduce the blue light at a certain time of day, say 6 pm, to begin reducing light exposure.


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