Working with kids in schools these past weeks, and indeed having five children of my own, has alerted me to the seemingly unprecedented obsession with the new online game Fortnite. Not since Pokémon Go has something seemed to take the world by storm, leaving parents wondering when it will ever stop.
Like many parents, I struggle with kids and screen time, most notably with computer games. I set time limits on play, check games are age-appropriate, ban devices from the bedroom and offer all sorts of alternative play and activities … but still get disheartened that my two boys would rather race virtual cars and navigate imaginary worlds than kick a football around or build Lego.
Each year, Oxford Dictionaries chooses a Word of the Year. For 2016, the 'Word of the Year was 'post-truth'.
'Post-truth' is the idea that it is easier to influence public opinion with messages that appeal to emotions, belief and prejudices than it is using facts. It is an idea that has been around for awhile, but was brought to a head in 2016 during the Brexit vote in the UK and the Presidential election in the USA.
"Keep all digital devices out of the bedroom!"
"Be a parent, not a friend"
"Don't let your child do anything online that you wouldn't let them do offline"
These were the three key statements repeated by cybersafety expert, Susan McLean, at King's 'Growing Up Online' Cybersafety Seminar on 4 October 2016.
I am guilty of giving in to my obedient, cooperative 12-year-old who does her chores cheerfully. "Everyone has musical.ly, Mum!' I added it and set up my own account and befriended her so I could monitor her. We checked the 'privacy' settings and googled the feedback and set rules about being in school uniform etc. The 13+ age restriction is standard on social media platforms and we talked about how it was a privilege to use it 8 months before she turns 13.
How naive I was!