Do you ever feel like your kids spend too much time on their tablets, phones, and other electronic devices? Statistics show that children between the ages of eight and eighteen spend more than seven hours per day on screens. Digital technology has clearly become a standard part of our routines and daily lives.
The media promotes the dangers of allowing children to spend too much time on their digital devices, with consequences ranging from meeting strangers in internet chat rooms to being bullied by classmates. Raising your child in a digital world is a necessary evil, so how can you help them to truly thrive?
Teaching your child the importance of online safety and interactions is essential in today’s digital age. Following a few of these important steps can help you to reinforce these lessons for your child.
Be active on social media.
Maybe you’ve shunned social media in the past, but being active on your own sites can help you to better monitor your child. Many parents require their children to add them as a friend or to follow them on their accounts. If a child refuses to allow their parents to view their social media, it’s probably a sign that they aren’t using it maturely or appropriately.
Actively following your child’s account is a great way to monitor their social interactions. Parents can use their own examples of mean-spirited comments to teach the proper etiquette for online conversation. You may also be able to monitor their friend list for suspicious online strangers. The benefits of being added to your child’s accounts are almost endless.
Set the standard for internet safety.
In years past, you may have taught your child how to interact with strangers who attempt to get their personal information. Children sometimes have difficulty applying this concept to people they meet online. Without having to specifically face the consequences, it can be simple to hand out pertinent information that can put your family in jeopardy.
Make sure you have a clear standard about what information is alright for your child to share with others online. For example, they may share their first name but should always keep their home address private. Give them specific examples of how some of these important clues could be used to track them down in the event that an online friend turned out to be a predator.
Teach them what’s appropriate to share.
Once something is available on the internet, it can be extremely challenging to remove all traces of it. Whether your child posts an inappropriate photo or sends information that’s too personal, the long-lasting repercussions of their actions are impossible to erase. That’s why it’s so important to teach your child what is appropriate in advance.
You may help your child to develop a sense of what’s appropriate by asking them if they would feel comfortable sharing their photo with their grandparents. If it’s too risqué for grandma to see, it’s probably not something you should put up as your profile picture on social media.
Model how technology should be used.
We all know that it isn’t healthy to be in front of a screen all day long. Make sure that your child sees you taking breaks from social media, catching up on work emails, and texting your friends. Technology is great, but sometimes we just need to disconnect from our screens. You can model this during set times throughout the day, such as at the dinner table.
You may decide to institute a policy for the entire family. Phones are put up for one hour each night to have dinner together and talk. This ensures that your child is paying attention to the healthy behavior you’re modeling and it makes the break a standard for everyone in the home. Once you make it a rule, you have to make sure that you’re willing to consistently abide by it also.
Technology has the potential to significantly improve your child’s life. They can use tablets to play games, study for class, and learn how to interact better with their peers. When it’s used incorrectly, it can lead to lasting consequences and damage to their self-esteem. Start early by teaching your children the right ways to navigate this new digital age in a healthy way.