This is probably a sound all too familiar from children’s bedrooms up and down the country.
Bedrooms with young children or living rooms or back seats of cars!! Technology is now more accessible and mobile than ever before and this is not a fad or trend that will go away.
As a nation, we are all too dependent now on technology and it's embedded in literally all that we do.
I had an issue with my WI-FI at home and for 2 hours literally nothing worked, the sky box couldn’t function without it and my 9 year old didn’t know what was happening like it was “end of days”.
“CAMERON – you are so lucky, there was no internet when I was your age”………. Cue the blank expression, the lack of understanding in his eyes and me feeling older than ever.
You see as a child with autism, my son’s world in his mind is very black and white – there are no murky areas of grey.
Realistically though there are more grey areas than black or white.
My son plays Roblox as do all his friends.
I was very worried about allowing this application on his computer and there were measures I had to take initially to safeguard my son.
Firstly, I purchased and installed on his laptop “Kaspersky Safe Kids” it helps you mentor your kids on device usage time and guide them on safety – so they only access the types of website, content & apps you decide are appropriate.
You’ll also get expert advice – from psychologists – to help you explain security issues to your kids.
I told Cameron that under NO CIRCUMSTANCES was he to chat to anyone online, as soon as any chat boxes pop up I want to check out if it is his school friends.
Everything was fine and he was shouting at me periodically to check the chat boxes which were all above board and innocent.
Then I got a message in my son's journal from school which stated,
“Cameron has advised us today in RE that he has 200 friends on the Robox platform and does not understand the safety issues with this."
I WAS MORTIFIED.
I penned a defensive reply to his teacher explaining that his internet usage is monitored and he knows not to chat to anyone online or tell anyone his name and personal details, furthermore that my job role entails parts of cybercrime investigations so as a family we were quite savvy.
I once told him that he could not talk to strangers – he replied “well If I ask them their name and tell them mine, they won’t be a stranger”!!
Yes this is true but not how it works.
I asked Cameron why did he have so many friends online……. Cue his logical reply: “mum, you told me not to chat to people you did not say I could not add people as friends!” – and this was true!
I sat him down to explain that he does not need all these friends in order to play his game and that I wanted him to go through and remove all the people that he does not personally know.
There was confusion and he felt like he had done something wrong and was upset that he now only has 9 friends.
As a child with SEN who is high functioning, so can understand to a degree what his friends are into and when he feels he is missing out.
This is now my grey area you see, to be able to give him some trust and confidence to grow but to protect him from a world that too be honest even I don’t fully understand.