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Digital 5 A Day for kids


The Digital 5 A Day guide

The Digital 5 A Day guide promotes a positive relationship with technology without being too restrictive. It suggests that if phones, social media and games are making a child feel worried, stressed and a bit out of control, it often means that they haven't got the balance of a digital life quite right. It points out: "Finding the right digital balance means enjoying all the fun, exciting and creative things about being online while making sure that we aren't caught doing the same things all the time."

The guide is based on the NHS's 5 steps to mental wellbeing, placed in a digital context. The elements are connect, be active, get creative, give to others and be mindful.

Connect: The internet enables everyone to maintain friendships and family relationships no matter where they are in the world, and children often say chatting with friends is the best part of social media. It's important to acknowledge this is how children keep in touch, but it's also important to have a conversation with them about privacy settings. Keep a dialogue open and talk to your child to understand how they're spending their time and so they can come to you for help if they need to.

Be active: Physical activity is very important for mental wellbeing and all children should have time to switch off and get moving. A grumpy, tired stressed child may be a sign they are spending too much time online and not enough time being active. Find an activity that they enjoy such as swimming, walking or dancing and that is at the right level for them.

Get creative: The internet provides children with unlimited opportunities to learn and be creative, from learning to code to building complex structures in Minecraft to creating video content to writing. Time spent online can be educational and creative and provide opportunities to build skills for later life.

Give to others: The internet can be used to learn about how to get involved with local and national charitable schemes, and children can give to others through their everyday activities. They can give positive feedback and support to friends and family as well as report the negative behaviours of others, making the web a positive place for everyone.

Be mindful: Children often feel pressured by the constant connected nature of the internet. It can be difficult for them to put their phones down to other things, especially if apps encourage them to engage. Parents should not only be mindful about the amount of time their child is spending online but also encourage them to be mindful of how it makes them feel. Encourage them to come up with suggestions to manage their time such as by keeping a diary or downloading an app that helps them manage their notifications.

Taken as a whole and supplemented with parents own ideas about what they want for their children, the commissioner says that she hopes the Digital 5 A Day guide will be a starting point "for parents to tackle one of the modern parenting world's newest and biggest dilemmas and help children to lead the way as active digital citizens." The guide also gives advice on staying safe and suggests talking to a trusted adult or contacting Childline if a child has questions about staying safe or need help.

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