When I was younger, the phrase “do you want to play out?” was one of the most used phrases down my road. I’m so very thankful that I grew up in a time before social media, before the internet (well we had the very first dregs of the internet which took approximately 5 weeks to load 1 website so I probably wouldn’t count that!) and before we were all glued to our phones, trying to find the perfect filter rather than trying to find the perfect conker. I was an extremely active kid, always playing with two girls who lived down my road who were similar ages to me, running around, using our bikes and scooters (like those from Skatehut) and climbing trees over the park. I had an extremely happy childhood and I’m so very thankful for that.
Being the kid, our job was to just have fun. I had no idea what it must have been like for my parents to let their only daughter go outside and play without parental supervision, even though my road is relatively small and the park is literally a stone’s throw away. Thankfully, I never had any trouble when I was out playing, despite not having a phone apart from maybe being chased by the occasional dog and ending up in tears (I had a pretty bad fear of dogs back then!) But other than being stuck up a climbing frame because a Jack Russell was barking at me, it was pretty smooth.
Obviously times have changed quite a bit since I was a kid and now at just 25 (soon to be 26, ugh) I can visually see differences in how children now act compared to how I did at the same age. Technology is one of the main differences I think we’ll all agree on. Today I wanted to talk about “playing out” and keeping children safe when they are. Because although times have changed yes, things can still go wrong.
Monitor online activity / internet activity
With the rise of apps and games such a Pokemon Go, they can certainly encourage kids to get outside more which is great but it also encourages them to be online which is usually a bit of a touchy subject. Before they head out anywhere, monitoring their internet access could be a good idea, turning it off completely or deleting any apps which could allow strangers to get in touch with them.
Give them a basic phone with emergency contacts
If you’re a parent who feels comfortable giving their child a phone, that could be a really useful way of giving yourself a bit more peace of mind as well as keeping them safer. You can pick up a super cheap, basic phone almost anywhere these days and with no internet and just emergency contacts if they were to need them, that could be a really useful tool in keeping them safe.
As well and outside threats, it’s also important to keep your child physically safe from the elements or whatever activity they’re doing when they’re out playing and haven’t got an adult nagging them! If it’s sunny, high factor sun cream is an obvious option as well as water and a hat. Ensuring they’re wearing their helmet if they’re on a bike and sufficient knee or elbow padding if they’re using any other equipment which could have nasty circumstances if they come off of it!
Nothing’s too obvious
Children get caught up in things, I know I did so teaching them the obvious rules of being out on their own and reiterating these rules when necessary (or even giving them a fun test so they can tell you instead of the other way around) could be really useful! These would include; don’t talk to strangers, don’t go off with anyone you don’t know, don’t get into cars of people you don’t know, how to cross the road safely etc!
Be vigilant and sensible
It’s great to be out and about and have fun on your own with your friends but that doesn’t mean that reason goes out of the window. Teaching your child to be vigilant and sensible can really be helpful and these lessons will hopefully stay with them throughout their life. I know that I learnt some things when I was younger than I still remember now, such as:
- always sitting near other families on public transport if you’re on your own
- being wary of unattended bags etc on public transport
- sticking to well lit busy roads if walking on your own
- keep your phone away as much as possible
- if you’re lost or have a problem and can’t contact home, ask a police officer, a shop worker or a family with children for help – not just any stranger
If you have kids, I’d love to hear what precautions you and them take to ensure their safety when they’re out playing without adult supervision. If you have any really useful tips, do share them below!
* This post was in partnership with Skatehut