“Parenting” was not even a term a decade ago. (Back then, people actually “fed” children in the same way they raised crops or livestock.)
Much newer is the concept of “digital parenting.” In reality, it’s a word that’s just recently begun to enter our lexicon. Most of us are aware that it entails guiding our children’s use of technology in some way. But it’s unclear precisely how we’re supposed to go about it.
This is not unexpected. The majority of us grew up in a technological era without social media, multiplayer gaming, online porn, video streaming, cyberbullying, or sexting. Some of us can also recall the days of dial-up.
Back then, digital parenting meant diverting your children’s attention away from the phone so that you could send a mail. Our children are constantly linked in today’s world, even in the classroom (especially in the classroom! ), to the point where the difference between online and offline is becoming increasingly meaningless.
While digital parenting is still a developing concept, some basic guidelines are beginning to emerge based on an increasing body of evidence and observation. The following are seven of the most crucial:
1- Have a conversation with your children.
This one comes first because it is the single most important thing you can do to keep your children happy, safe, and balanced online, according to all facts. Maintaining ongoing, open-ended discussions with your children (and their peers) about their online activities is just as critical as keeping up with their offline activities today.
You should talk to them about hazards and threats. But don’t get the impression that these discussions should be dominated by negativity. Make sure you’re aware of the positive aspects of their online world, such as the fun and engaging aspects. Often, listen twice than you talk. You’ll be surprised by how much you learn.
2- Continue to educate yourself.
It’s not enough to throw your hands up and announce that you despise technology and have no desire to learn more about it. Perhaps you have no idea how Snapchat works, why anyone would want to sext, or why anyone would want to play Fortnite. That’s completely understandable. It isn’t your universe. However, this is the world in which your children live and this is the water in which they swim. You owe it to them to educate yourself about the culture.
Make it a habit to keep up with the latest online trends and games and applications. Consult with other parents and your children’s teachers. Inquire to your own children for assistance and advice. Sit next to them as they play a game or use social media.
3- Put parental controls in place.
We’re in the Family Zone! But, seriously, every single cyber expert on the planet makes this suggestion, and with good reason. Allowing your children to roam the internet at will is clearly not responsible parenting.
“Of course I trust my child,” says Family Zone cyber expert Brett Lee. I really don’t trust the other 3 billion people on the internet with him.” You should have strict safeguards in place from the moment you put a smartphone in their hands to block inappropriate content and help you monitor their screen time.
4- Create ground rules and stick to them.
A digital contract (verbal or, better yet, in writing) is needed for successful digital parenting, according to the experts. You must be completely explicit about what is and is not planned in terms of online time, passwords, bedtimes, downloads, in-app purchases, streaming, and so on. Yes, the list does seem to go on forever
5- Make friends and pursue them, but don’t stalk them.
There are guidelines for parents communicating with their children on social media. Restraint is one of them. It’s all over if you use the access your child has given you to spy on them – or, God forbid, publicly nag or lecture them. You’ve violated a friendship and an unspoken agreement. Friends don’t stalk, nag, or lecture each other.
6- Discover, share, and rejoice.
Look for and participate in the positive aspects of your child’s online life. Maybe she made something amazing in Minecraft or shared a beautiful picture on Instagram. Perhaps she’s progressed to a new stage in a difficult game or discovered some useful Google search tips. Encourage your child to tell you about his or her experiences. Make sure she knows how proud you are of her and how fun it is to see her grow online.
7- Act as a positive digital role model.
Do you check your emails while eating dinner? When you’re driving, do you look at the odd text? When your child is attempting to communicate with you, do you respond to notifications? We’ve all been there at one point or another. However, if your own computer use is out of reach, you are almost certainly modeling behavior that your child would imitate. Be the transition you want to see in the world of digital parenting.