Parenting today is much more complicated than it used to be a decade ago, due to advances in technology. Children and teens have valid reasons to go online, but if their activities are not controlled, it can turn out to be a colossal disaster. The internet is a fantastic educational tool that your kids can use to support their learning. However, the online world has its dark side. As a parent, your sole responsibility is to protect your child from all dangers the online world presents.
New social media platforms are emerging every day with access to not favorable content becoming more accessible than ever. As a parent, it is nearly impossible to monitor everything your kid does online. However, there are critical steps you can do to minimize the effect of the dangers internet poses to your children. Here is what you can do;
The biggest concern for your children is the quality and the amount of screen time they have access to. There is a big debate between interactive or constructive screen time and passive screen time. Passive screen time is the time spend staring at TV programs, watching movies and games. Constructive screen time is time spent by kids designing apps, developing websites, coding, writing digital music among others. To control your kids screen time, talk to them about what they are doing and help them find the right balance. Encourage them to take breaks and try many other things.
Once your kids gain more access to the internet, things begin to get interesting. As a parent, you have to be more concerned about what they are seeing online or reading, and the effect this content they are getting exposed to have on their behavioural patterns. The critical question here lies on how to keep them from accessing undesirable content. You can use internet filters and secure web browsers for young kids. Draft an agreement about what is considered acceptable and what is not. Teach your kids safe browsing habits and what to download and avoid.
Once your kids start enjoying a decent amount of independence, be it walking home from school, enjoying the weekend on their own, etc., it’s time to think about getting them a cell phone. At this point, many kids already have tablets. Giving them mobile phones becomes a whole new issue to deal with regarding monitoring their activities. To control their internet usage, collect all devices and turn them off before they retire to bed. Help your kids understand all the dangers associated with sexting and cyberbullying. You can start giving your kids simple phones that have no data and weighing on what to add as time moves on.