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How one family protects their children online - Gilly and twins Orlando and Louisa

5 Oct 2008Empowering People
3 minute read

The second my two-year-old twins Orlando and Louisa were born, their picture was captured on my iPhone and, within the hour, news of their arrival was winging its way around the world. So it’s no surprise that they are techno-savvy.

If I want a moment’s peace when we’re out, I let them ‘play with my iPhone’. They touch the photos icon, play bits of video and scroll through the pictures shouting the names of friends and relatives they spot. People are always amazed that they know what to do with their tiny fingers, including unlocking the phone!

It's the world they were born into.

Being twins, sharing is something we are working on at present, so I even have an old iPhone that I keep charged (with no SIM card) so they can have one each for picture viewing.

We’ve downloaded the Dig Dig Digging app because it’s my son’s favourite book by Margaret Mayo and he loves that. I can also find Peppa Pig on YouTube on my iPhone in double-quick time with my eyes closed! Peppa has saved my life on more than one occasion, but it’s not something they watch every day.

Like most parents, I would prefer them to be playing with their toys, looking at books or running about in the park than engaging with phone apps but the digital age creeps up on you and they absorb and mimic your behaviour.

My laptop is constantly open on the kitchen table – it’s where mummy “puts her busy work”. Needless to say they wanted their own “busy work” computers, so they now have LeapFrog consoles with mini keyboards and screens where they can tap out ‘guess the letter’ games.

They also have an Oregon Scientific console with game cards that slot in. They have to touch the screen when the console asks questions like “Where is the rainbow?” and “What’s the first letter of the word apple?” Most of it is a bit beyond them at the moment, but they like the physicality of playing with them.

All these things are fashioned like mini laptops and I would be very surprised if we get to five-years-old before they demand a trip to the Apple store for their own ‘puter’ (although they won’t be getting one!).

Like most two-year-olds, they watch their fair share of CBeebies. Their favourites are Grandpa In My Pocket and anything featuring Mr Tumble. We’ve looked around the CBeebies website and it was a big hit. It doesn’t yet have the same hold as TV, although I expect that will change.

The CBeebies site is great because it gives a subtext for parents so you know what skills they are learning while they are playing each game and the twins seem to get a real sense of achievement from participating with their favourite characters.

They also attend a Sure Start crèche twice a week for two hours where they are encouraged to use the computer for basic mouse skills, colouring exercises and matching games. Recently, they brought home a computerised printout of their name which impressed me no end and now has pride of place on the fridge door.

  • Digital skills
  • Public Policy

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