A generation ago, the word “parenting” was not even a concept. (Back then, people “raised” children like livestock or crops. ?
Digital parenting is a new term. It’s a term that is just starting to make its way into our vocabulary. It involves nurturing children’s use of technology. It is not clear how exactly we should do this.
It’s not surprising. Many of us grew-up in a totally different technological age without social media, multiplayer games, online porn and video streaming, cyberbullying, or sexting. Many of us still remember the days of dial-up.
Digital parenting was back when you could get your kids off the phone to send an email. Our children are connected 24 hours a day, even in school (especially in the classroom!). It is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between offline and online.
While digital parenting is still a new concept, there are some guidelines that can be used to guide you. Here are seven important guidelines:
1- Talk to your children.
This is the most important thing you can to ensure your children are happy, healthy, and balanced online. Open-ended, ongoing conversations with your children (and their peers online) are as important as keeping up with their activities offline.
Talking about dangers and risk with your children is a good idea. Don’t let negativity dominate these conversations. Make sure to keep your eyes open for the positives, the engaging and fun side of their online world. Listen twice as much as your words. It will be amazing how much you learn.
2- Educate yourself.
It is not enough to say you don’t like technology or have no interest in it. Perhaps you don’t understand Snapchat or why anyone would want to sext or Fortnite. It’s all understandable. It is not your world. It is the world that your children live in – it is the water they drink. It is their responsibility to teach them about this world.
Make it a habit of looking for the latest news on online trends and games. You might start by visiting our Family Zone blog or Facebook page. Talk to other parents as well as the teachers of your children. Ask your children for advice and guidance. As they interact with social media or play a game, sit alongside them.
3- Use parental controls.
We’d definitely say that. Family Zone is our name! This is a recommendation that every cyber expert makes, and it’s for a good reason. It is not responsible parenting to allow your children to roam the web unsupervised.
Brett Lee, Family Zone cyber expert says that “Of course” he trusts his child. I don’t trust 3 billion people online with him.” You should set up strong controls to prevent inappropriate material from being accessed and manage screen time.
4- Set ground rules and enforce the consequences. Experts agree that a digital contract (verbal, or even in writing) is crucial to digital parenting. It is essential to clearly communicate what is expected of you with regards to online time, passwords and bedtimes, as well as in-app purchases and streaming. Click to see a sample contract created by Jordan Foster, ySafe cyber expert and clinical psychologist.
5- Follow and friend, but don’t follow. There are rules when it comes to how parents interact with their children on social media. One of these rules is restraint. It’s over if you take advantage of the permissions granted to your child to spy on them, or to publicly nag or lecture their children. You have violated an implicit bargain and a trust. Friends don’t stalk or nag friends.
Friends shouldn’t nag, stalk or lecture each other.”
6- Share, celebrate and explore. Find the positives in your child’s online world and get involved. Perhaps she has created something amazing in Minecraft or posted an incredible photo to Instagram. Perhaps she has reached new heights in a difficult game or discovered some great Google search tricks. Encourage your child’s sharing of these moments. Let your child know how proud and exciting it is to watch her online progress.
7- Be a role model for digital technology. Are you a good digital role model? Do you glance at the occasional text while driving? Do you respond to messages while your child is trying speak to me? We have all been there. The truth is that if you allow your device use to spiral out of control, your child will most likely follow your lead. Be the change you wish to see in digital parenting.