Parenting in the Digital Age: 5 Tips to Keep Your Family Savvy but Safe
By Cara Beth McLeod
Like it or not, we are in the digital age and our children are growing up in a different world than anyone who has come before them. This is what we want, right? I think so, most days. It is no longer an option for parents to just not get involved in the digital world. You may not want to have a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account, but your children do want these things and are exposed to them everyday. If you turn your back and pretend it isn’t there, you are putting your child in danger. The question is: How do I get educated and set some rules about the digital age in my family? If you haven’t made this part of your value set as a family…. start.
Let’s start with the basics:
- Children should not be on any device (iTouch, iPad, laptop, computer, you name it) behind closed doors. Keep all devices out in the open so that you can monitor where your children are on the computer, what they are doing and who they are with digitally. It is so easy to trust and want to send the message of trust, but you need to be there when curiosity strikes.
- â€‹Find out the rules for each app and site and game your children want to use. Some, like Facebook, have an age requirement. Learn the facts about each of these sites. If these sites have an age requirement, there is a reason. Make this the same rule in your home.
- â€‹Once your child becomes of age for these sites, you should be friends, followers, whatever the lingo with your child. I believe in the ‘It Takes a Village’ concept with the digital world. I am a follower of many of my students on instagram and twitter. I check in on them and I talk very casually with either the students or their parents if I see something concerning on the sites involving the children. I always keep it in the safety context. I want my child and the children I teach to feel like they can share things with me and talk to me about what is going on in their lives either face to face or digitally.
- â€‹Have an open dialogue with your child early and often about digital citizenship. Find out why your child wants to be on these sites, what they plan on doing, set your limits and let them know you will checking in on them.
- Get educated. Here are some resources for you about what digital citizenship is, some statistics are about the digital world we live in and how you and your child can have a healthy relationship with the digital world.
- â€‹Schools have something called Acceptable Use policies. This is a good place to start. Find out about your child’s school acceptable use policy, read it and share it with your child if they of an appropriate age.
- â€‹www.digitalcitizenship.net-â€‹ This site has great resources for parents and teachers about all the different aspects of digital citizenship. It even has parent and child contracts about digital use.
â€‹While, some of this information may be overwhelming and a bit scary, it is important and necessary. This world is happening in almost every home. Embracing the digital world in your home will help keep your family educated, safe and tech savvy.