Control Z


Putting control into the parents hands.

Control is something which I feel parents are losing a lot of when their child comes home from school with a shiny new computer. I often imagine the groans from some parents as they realise that years of disciplined upbringing, routine and careful social selection is certain to come undone.

Those of us using a windows computer will also know that ‘control Z’ simply means undo. Just a quick key combination which has been around for decades that can retract the most horrific of mistakes. Perhaps a doodle in photoshop undone or a passive aggressive paragraph removed from an email. This safety net in recent years has been invaluable for almost all of us.

I will show you how you can re-gain control of your child's online activities. You will be able to restrict, snoop and discover all sorts of perhaps, unsavoury details using 2 fairly simple methods.


Guides for parents - as seen in Scribe Magazine.

  • Click here for a guide on how you can use Parental Controls built into your Mac.
  • Click here for assistance with Self Control, it allows for self exclusion from certain websites for a period of time while a visual clock counts down.


Putting control into the childs hands.

Throughout our lives, we all exercise self-control. In doing so we resist temptation, meet deadlines and follow direction. It is an essential skill for becoming successful and one that should be defined and internalised in our children's education.

The reward for self regulating is an immense sense of achievement. That feeling of marking items off a check list, completing assignments and homework tasks is one of huge satisfaction. Instead of rewarding students for such achievements make it known that they are using their self-control to make themselves feel good.

I have spoken with many students about their online social habits, interestingly enough each pupil is remarkably open & honest. Some have given me a snapshot of their computers and indicated that their daily routine is full of distractions (mainly with pop up windows and other notifications). In every instance it feels as though the student is looking for a solution and assistance to combat time wasted on Facebook. Playing the victim maybe, but it is clear that most want help.

The truth is that we simply cannot micro manage each Macbook, mobile phone or tablet device, in the home or at school. As these devices get smaller and even more personal the challenge is to ensure that the student is experienced enough to do the right thing and implement some basic strategies;

Switch off the Wi-Fi connection. I often do this if I need to concentrate fully on the task at hand. Even as I write this my internet connection is switched off. This ensures that I will not be distracted by any emails or other work/social commitments. At least for 30 minutes I can simply word process.

Set a countdown timer. Another great technique which is often implemented in the classroom is simply a count down clock. This is known as ‘Time Boxing’ where by your attention is completely focused on a task for the chosen period of time. So even if you set your virtual egg timer for just 20 minutes, students can get really productive knowing that they can reward themselves with a status update on Facebook.

Keep the computer in a shared home space. It’s an old one but possibly the best advice I can give. Certainly while your child is just getting used to the internet, and social networking. Try to give your child tips on how they can avoid distractions, get work done and ultimately shut down the computer. You may also want to consider make the bedroom a screen free zone, this includes mobile phones too.

Take time out. If you are simply flitting around between the same websites and not making progress, shut down the computer. Often research and ideas flow better with a pen and paper in the library. Also outdoor activities should take priority. Research from the Heart Foundation suggests that children need at least 60 minutes (and up to several hours) of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.


“Procrastinating is the art of keeping up with yesterday and avoiding today”

- Wayne Dyer

The teaching direction of 21st century schooling has a focus on equipping our students with the knowledge to conduct themselves responsibly online and the positive effects are evident. The majority of Australian teenagers which I have spoken with receive outstanding guidance and support from their schools. I feel that the roll out of modern devices in education has been a huge success so far, but the journey is just beginning and is one where we are all learning.

It is a great privilege for students to have access to leading technology which provides significant educational value. By using any of the tips outlined above we can provide virtual driving lessons and prepare teenagers for a future where the use of technology is unavoidable.