Technology is a crucial aspect of today’s society. Children growing up with social media and technology advancements have a much different childhood than most adults experienced. More kids aged 2-5 can navigate a smartphone application than tie their shoelaces. Technology can be a great educational tool, but as a parent, it is important to monitor your child’s online activity and ensure your child is accessing safe, positive online communities.
Talk with children about their digital footprints:
Whatever kids puts on the internet, stays on the internet. Any pictures, videos, messages etc. can always be saved, stored and shared by users, therefore leaving a “digital footprint”. Talk with your child about being cautious with the content they put on their accounts. Many children accept friend requests or allow people to “follow” their activity in order to get more likes on their photos and content. Ensure that your children are only accepting requests from people they personally know and notifying you of any suspicious users.
Set rules and curfews for digital devices:
Creating clear rules about what your children are and aren’t allowed to view and post is essential to a healthy relationship with technology. Discuss with your child the importance of age-appropriate content. As a parent, you can block sites and create privacy settings that pertain to violence, sex, drugs, adult movie ratings etc. from your child’s device. Set guidelines that prohibit children from using devices during family mealtimes, so that they can converse with you and spend quality time. It is also important to keep devices out of children and teen’s bedrooms by plugging them into a charging station in the public areas of your home for the night. This is a convenient location to monitor viewing content as well.
Have social media accounts yourself:
In order to relate to your children and understand what happens on social media, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with various platforms that your children utilize. By “friending” or “following” your children on these platforms, you are able to monitor their activity and recognize when actions need to be addressed. It is important to remember that children do not always have the experience and resources to make the best choices that parents are capable of making.
Address cyber bullying:
Cyber bullying is using technology to harass, threaten, embarrass or target another individual. Bullies have been around forever, but technology has opened the door for children to say mean things without any consequences. Sometimes it is easy to recognize online bullying, such as mean commentary. Other times it is more discrete, such as posting embarrassing photos of another person, personally messaging your child, or creating fake accounts designed with cruel intentions. Bullying is never okay, on the playground or online. It is important to make sure that your child is not bullying others and understands how hurtful those actions can be. If your child is a victim of cyber bullying make sure to report it to the school, the bully’s parents. Your child’s mental health is a main priority. Make sure they are using technology appropriately and participating in positive online communities.