Tech and Togetherness

Age Guide: What’s My 8-12 Year Old Into?

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Top tips for kiwi digi-kids

Walk into the home of any child this age and you might well find them playing FIFA Soccer or Minecraft on their games console, listening to music or texting friends on their mobile. They might be doing some research on Wikipedia or writing an article for a school blog.

Virtual communities and games – like Moshi Monsters, where children can create their own virtual worlds, interact with avatars and, in some cases, buy stuff – are also popular at this age.

Social networking is ubiquitous, and despite minimum age limits of 13, many 8-12 year olds are even accessing mainstream social networking sites like Instagram and Facebook and video-sharing services like YouTube.

This age can be a real turning point when young people are embracing new technologies both at home and at school and it’s a crucial time for parents to help them stay in control of their digital world. Giving out personal information, playing violent games, cyber bullying and meeting strangers online are among the issues that need to be discussed. Now’s the time to talk.

Age 8 – 12 simple checklist:

  1. Agree some limits on what your son or daughter can or can’t do online (e.g. how much time they spend on the internet or games consoles).
  2. Remember that lots of devices now have internet access (e.g. mobiles, games consoles and the iPod Touch) and that many laptops have built-in webcams.
  3. Don’t be pressured into buying your child anything you don’t think they’re old enough for – for example, if you only want them to have a mobile for calling and texting, don’t get them one with internet access.
  4. Make sure you set SafeSearch to the right level for your child’s age and maturity – but remember, they might not be 100% effective and they aren’t a substitute for parental supervision.
  5. Teach them to behave responsibly in the digital world and to respect other members of the online community.
  6. Make it a rule that they give their real age when registering for websites and only play age-appropriate games – minimum age limits are there to help protect them from inappropriate content and interactions.
  7. Remind them that the internet is a public place and that anything they post online creates a digital footprint that lasts forever.
  8. Work together to create your own Digi-Family Agreement, with rules you can all agree to.

Quick Tips

  1. Did you know?: Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and messaging apps like Kik and WhatsApp have an age limit of 13 and over.

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