Tag Archives: YouTube

Technophobic Parenting

Being a parent can often involve a multitude of roles covering everything from cleaner to chef or chauffeur to psychoanalyst and the negotiation talents of Alan Sugar for when it comes to mealtimes/bedtimes or bickering between siblings is often helpful.

The latest required string to my parental bow is the need for technology know-how. Don’t get me wrong, I can confidently find my way around the internet, am fairly proficient in Word, Excel and Powerpoint and hopefully Social Media savvy (although still trying to become enamoured by Twitter). However, when we bought our 10-year-old son a tablet for his birthday in December, his knowledge of the internet in a week left me in the dust. Trying to keep up with him clicking between various tabs was like trying to understand the conversations in one of the modern Star Wars films. In the early days of his new gadget, I sat down with him to ‘show him the ropes’ but instead ended up with my first-born helping me create a Google account while he become frustrated trying to explain Google + to me. Say What Now?

This is the child that has looked to me for advice from birth. Those big green eyes have penetrated my soul as he has quizzed me about all manner of weighty subjects over the last ten years, as I in turn imparted my pearls of wisdom about what worms eat, or if Spiderman has to wee like normal people, but computers, this is a whole new world that I wasn’t ready to share with him yet. A world that he is sort of doing a lot better at than me worryingly.

computer says no

Our son is not only a bit of a computer whizz kid, but I am proud to think that he is a sensible little fella too. He has a nice group of friends that are all polite boys, we have never had any fears of him being bullied and on the whole, apart from the usual strops about going to bed early or not wanting to eat his broccoli, he is a happy child. And like most other parents, I thought I knew my son, we talk a lot, he tells me lots of things about his school life, he talks to me regarding his concerns about whether he’ll make the Chelsea soccer squad when he’s an adult and I in turn try to steer him to other career choices, but I was suitably shocked to discover that my innocent little man was actually making YouTube videos.

He sometimes borrows my laptop as he started writing a blog last year (http://williamsmatchoftheday.wordpress.com/)  and I am actively encouraging this new-found desire for creativity by allowing him use of my computer. However, when he left it logged on (again!) the other night after he had gone to bed, the only tab open was YouTube displaying the numerous videos he and his friends have been making.

The thing is, my son and his friends are addicted to Minecraft and for those of you who are not familiar with this game, it is basically a combat, building, strategy type game with graphics which remind me of those that were used on Ceefax many years ago. Yet despite its seemingly awful layout, it has become the biggest thing for young gamers worldwide and most definitely amongst my son’s friends. He has assured me that the Minecraft he plays is only single player mode and that the things he builds/blows up are only in his realm and that he doesn’t have the ability to talk to anyone on the site. Phew…However, he and his friends are sharing their Minecraft creations with each other on YouTube. To me, this is mental. YouTube is a place I use to view music videos and film trailers, YouTube is also the place some people go to watch porn, upload dodgy videos of themselves and a lot of stuff that is definitely not suitable for a naïve 10-year-old. My other major concern, when I saw the fresh face of my son on his YouTube video talking to his friends and the World Wide Web (argh!) about his latest Minecraft tactics, is who else is watching this!

This then provoked the conversation I had been dreading. Me and hubby sat down and talked to our innocent boy about the risks he runs from posting videos on YouTube, that it’s not just his mates that could be watching and that some bad grown up people may pretend to be a 10-year-old Minecraft fan and will want to talk to him and that’s not OK. The confused expression that I was met with during this conversation made my heart skip. This young boy of mine is on the verge of growing up and is doing so into a very different world that I experienced when I was his age.  My computer knowledge at 10 was watching my older brother take at least 15 minutes to load Pac-Man onto his Spectrum with ear-piercing screeching noises emitting from his cassette deck.

I’m excited for my children’s technological future and I personally want them to embrace it (within reason) and be able to become savvy in its positive sides. If tablets and whiteboards are the way forward in the classroom then I want my children to know their way around them with their safety being paramount. I talked with my son about how people should act appropriately online and what sites he is allowed on. We have told him to never use his real name or to show his face in any YouTube videos, if he needs an avatar then he should use a cartoon one like mine. As an extra safety measure, I am attempting to fold washing behind the chair in which he sits on his tablet and have a little peek at what he is accessing.

When we bought the tablet for his birthday present we downloaded the parental controls as suggested by the information provided, however, it wasn’t very clear to me what he was protected from exactly. Can he stumble across adult content from an innocent Google search? Can he be cyber bullied on gaming websites? What should I be worried about when it comes to him being online unsupervised? It makes me feel unable to protect him from this virtual world he is embracing and such a long way from the days he spent creating pictures of the Tweenies on the CBeebies website. But as long as we make this technological journey together or with my interfering eye over his shoulder, there’s no reason for him not to benefit from this new world he is discovering.

If you have any concerns over your children’s safety online, there is help available. The ever so knowledgable people at Childnet are launching a Safer Internet Day on 11 February to help concerned parents and their tech savvy children explore how to enjoy the internet in a safe and responsible way. Virtual worlds needn’t be places to fear, Disney Club Penguin are running the campaign ‘It Starts With You’ which also offers help to parents and children on how to make the online world a better place. Just make sure you ask permission before using your child’s tablet to look them up.


Proper Crimbo

Am I right in thinking it’s only the 1st of December tomorrow? Even with Christmas almost a month away, the mass of toy adverts have been on the TV since September, reducing my children into miniature Andy’s from Little Britain stating ‘I want that one’, to every toy advert that’s shown. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Grinch, I like Christmas, especially now I’m a Mum, but I just wish that it would start and finish in December and not before.


There is a lot of excitement on the run up to Christmas, my kids are huge fans of the festive period. But with decorations going up mid-November in some houses, it just means the children have to wait longer for the big day to come. The rule in our house is that the decorations don’t go up until the advent calendar arrives. Every year ‘Santa’ delivers the same advent calendar to us, complete with chocolate coins, when he comes to collect their Christmas wish lists. Earlier today the children were putting the finishing touches to their (very long) Christmas letters, while hubby was searching the loft for the advent calendar that tends to go missing after the chaos of Christmas is over.

My eldest son is 9 on Christmas Eve, it is an exciting time of year for him, but also a crazy time for all of us. I always want to make sure he feels like it is his birthday and not the day before Christmas. To ensure this it often means a party, a time that he can claim as his own. Last year, he invited his closest 4 friends or “The Inbetweenies” as me and hubby renamed them following a hilarious dinner at the local American diner. After they had eaten their body weight in chips, ribs and ice-cream, 3 of the boys came back for a sleepover. The twins were relocated to their grandparents house, the boys were chatting and laughing in my son’s bedroom in their side by side beds. Me and hubby kicked back and relaxed with a bottle of red and after a few ‘no more noise’ warnings, the boys settled down. Until about 2am that is, when 2 of them became caught up in a vomit relay between my son’s bedroom and the bathroom. While I stripped vomit covered bedding, hubby sorted out vomit covered children. As soon as it was light out, I rang the parents. They came one by one to collect their sons as I passed over a party bag along with the bag of vomit covered clothes and waved them off with a cheery ‘thanks for coming!’. This year we have decided to swerve the sleepover and instead we will be chauffeuring my son and his mates to a laser tag day, hopefully vomit free.

xmas psychiatry

I am so pleased that my eldest son still believes in Father Christmas as he came home from school a little sad last week. When I asked what was wrong, he explained that his friend had told him how ‘Santa isn’t real, it’s just your Mum and Dad getting the presents’. I did my best Uncle Albert style shocked reaction, assuring him that ‘your friend is wrong, how could I possibly afford all of the presents you and your brother and sister get?’. I do still wonder at that question myself actually. After much persuasion and some excellent fake Santa spotting clips on YouTube, he came back round to the idea that Father Christmas is real. However, it brings home the reality that this year could be the last year. That next year he won’t want to meet with the beardy man in the red suit at the garden centre and I will have to massively bribe him to not tell his siblings. I hope he still believes next year but just in case I will have to make as many mental pictures of his excitement in the next couple of weeks. And I will definitely have to up my game, ready for the onslaught of inquiring questions. When he was on page 2 of his Christmas wish list yesterday I pointed out that ‘Father Christmas won’t be able to give you everything on the list’. He said ‘It’s OK Mum, the elves make them so it doesn’t matter how much it costs’. I replied, ‘Well they might still have to buy parts’. He just smiled at me and carried on filling the space on the page. Actuallly, perhaps he does know….