Technology is a vital part of our lives now. We obviously can’t become cavemen and cut it off our lives completely. However, we can regulate its usage. The first place to start for manifesting good tech habits is our children.
Not too long ago, my partner and I were excited to get Spectrum in Maine and say goodbye to slow Internet. We realized our 12 years old got obsessed with his tablet and he was continuously connected to the Internet. Playing games, watching toy reviews, and even recording himself were some of his favorite activities. We had to intervene and ask ourselves if our kid was using technology safely.
Being a parent, you need to ask yourself this question too. Here is a guide on making technology safe for your kids:
What Tech Is My Child Using?
This includes every device your child has access to starting from tablet, laptop, to gaming console. Ask yourself how, when and how much does your child use these devices?
This will help you narrow down the tech your kid should or not should be using. For instance, if you have started to think maybe it’s time to buy your child their first phone, hold on. Do they really need it? Maybe it could be to stay in touch with you or an upcoming stool trip. If you can’t identify any specific need, then wait till you do.
Are They Familiar With Internet Safety?
All tech gadgets nowadays are Internet-enabled. This makes it mandatory for you to make your kids learn the Internet safety rules.
Don’t forget that the Internet works wonders in finding friends and exploring new interests. It’s easy to come across content or encounter an uncomfortable situation. Talk about this experience with your child. Tell them what’s right and what’s wrong. Make sure you teach them never to give away their personal information to any stranger online or offline.
Some kids are not responsible enough to avoid certain sites and apps. In that cause, use content blockers and filter out all the inappropriate content. Instead of snooping on their browsing habits, it’s best to define boundaries by using web filters.
Are They on Social Media?
Most social media platforms require users to be 13 years and above. Social networks like TikTok and Facebook offer family pairing features so you can frequently monitor the social media usage of your child. In case your kid doesn’t have a social media profile yet and they aren’t asking for it either, hold off. Decide what age you would like your kids to be introduced to these platforms.
Older kids usually experience FOMO especially when all their friends are on social and they aren’t. If that’s the case with your child, let them create social media accounts. Because if you don’t, they might do it behind your back.
Before they are on social media, make them familiar with cyberbullying. Do educate them about the appropriate things to post online and why privacy is important. Set rules when and how much to use social media.
Maintaining the Tech Harmony at Home
Charity begins at home and so does ensuring safe usage of tech. the best way to keep your kids safe is to set ground rules. These tips might help:
Strike a Balance
Nobody in the house should stay glued to their screens. There should be room for physical activity and some people to people connection in real-time.
Review the Privacy Settings
Review the privacy settings of social media and other online accounts for older children. Don’t just force them to use strict privacy settings, explain to them why it’s important.
Set Screen Time
The whole family must observe screen time limits. Instead of limiting the number of hours your kids spend on their screens, draw some lines. For instance, no phone on the dinner table, in the car, or on school nights.
Be a Good Role Model
Technology is equally irresistible for adults. We are guilty of checking our phones every other minute, surfing the internet on our laptops, binge-watching shows and so much more. Children copy our behavior. Sometimes, they feel they have to compete with their devices to get their parent’s attention. Don’t let that happen in your household. Improve your habits and see how quickly they manifest in your children as well.
Be Involved in Your Child’s Experiences
Watching a video with your child or playing with them offers lots of benefits. You will get to vet the content they are accessing. Also, you will share a unique bond with them. For that, parents need to keep up with the tech trends because your child is much likely to outsmart you.
Mentoring your kid about the safe use of technology will make their experience much healthier. You won’t have to yell at them to keep their phone down while they are talking to you.
Do encourage them to come to you whenever they come in an uncomfortable situation. Let them know you are as accessible as a cable hotline number. That way they remain safe from bad influences.