Let’s face it; the glory of traditional parenting methods faded the day toddlers started to Tweet before they could talk. So anything you learnt in your old parenting class? It doesn’t work anymore. Unless they taught you about Facebook etiquette or spotting an online predator or where not to post a selfie, the old methods are as good as obsolete. Now that there are problems like “online reputation crisis” or “cyber-stalking” and “catfishing”, you’ve got to don your tech suit and become a digital parenting.
How do you do that? Let’s break it down.
Be Part of their Digital World
You know how when you’re teaching your kid how to drive for the first time, you take the ride with them? Why should technology be any different? Huffington Post found that many parents rode bikes with their children for the first time, but none of them played Farmville or Minecraft with them ever. When you give your child their first computer or smartphone, you should practice using it together too, just like the car or the bike. It is very important to experience things together so you know firsthand what problems might arise.
Practice Digital Detox
Kids would gladly stay glued to their computer/tablet/smartphone screens all day if they had to. However, you as the parent know how much is too much. This is why you need to make sure your kids get their digital detox. In fact, this practice should be for the entire family. Set tech-free times and do something fun or creative as a family. Prepare dinner as a family, or sit on the living room floor together to play scrabble. Sure the internet is a great source of knowledge and entertainment, but your kids’ minds need other creative outlets to develop properly. Encourage an outdoor activity during their detox, too.
Monitoring or Privacy?
When does monitoring become an invasion of your kid’s privacy? Well, I suppose it is for you to decide. Just remember, your kid would always whine and protest when you monitor, no matter how reasonable your query is. At the same time, some parents give their child no breathing space at all. So here are a few dos and don’ts you could follow.
- DO go through their Facebook wall posts to see what they talk to their friends about
- DON’T start talking to all their friends on their wall at once—be the observer
- DO go through their friend lists to see how many you know of and how many are strangers
- DON’T report the strangers without any clear evidence of misconduct
- DO go through their internet history to see what pages they have been visiting
- DON’T expect your kids to always be honest about clearing their fish browsing data
- DO talk to them about online privacy and sharing too much personal information
- DON’T take internet oversharing lightly—talk to your kid about the dangers of cyber-stalking
Most of all, once you’ve talked to your kids about internet safety, give them some room be responsible on their own before coming back for a recheck.
Keep a Track of their Location
Digital parents are nothing without their tools, and location tracking is one of them. This is how you can always know where your kids are even when you’re away from them. You can know if they’re staying in school after you’ve dropped them off and went to work. You can make sure they really are going to the friend’s house that they told you of. Most of all, you can use it to ensure their safety and know where to pick them up from in case they get in trouble.
Talk to them About Cyber Dangers
Sit your kids down every now and them and talk to them about online safety risks. Discuss how important it is for them to keep information like phone numbers, addresses, and credit card numbers to themselves. And if someone on the internet is trying to coax it out of them, they should inform you right away. Also, educate them on cyber-bullying. Tell them where it is appropriate for them to share personal photos and where it is not. Above all, make sure they feel comfortable enough to come to you when they’re in the midst of online trouble.
Be the Digital Parent!
Remember, putting parental controls on your kid’s computer or mobile device is your responsibility as the authority figure, not an invasion of their privacy. Don’t be the parent that doesn’t know what their kid does in front of their computer all the time. Be as much a part of their online lives as you are of their offline lives.