While technology makes it easier for people to communicate, it often has its challenges – especially for parents. Parenting is a lot more complicated nowadays. In the past, children often played outside with friends after school. Now, they spend their time texting and emailing.
Computers, smartphones and tablets have many great uses, but it’s important for parents to be wary of what their children are actually doing online. There are hackers, scams and many inappropriate websites. There are many dangers lurking inside electronics devices and it’s up to you as a parent to protect your children from them – as if you didn’t already have enough on your plate.
The good news is that you – and your kids – can and will survive the digital age. It’ll take some communication and strict enforcement on your part, but you can successfully integrate technology with everyday life without it affecting other areas. Here are some tips to help.
Kids grow fast, so don't spend full price on their clothes and shoes! Visit our coupon pages for The Children's Place, Gymboree, Carter's, and OshKosh B'Gosh to learn about sales, deals, and more throughout the year. We also love checking out Amazon and Target for more mini needs.
Before you hand over a laptop, smartphone or tablet to your child, make sure he or she is aware of your expectations. Set limits in terms of how many hours the device can be used per day. Let your child know that if you find her using her device for more than the allotted time, then it can be taken away. Keep in mind that whatever punishments you set, you must be prepared to enforce them!
Even in the absence of technology, you want to know your child’s friends and what they are doing, right? The same goes for technology. Know who your child is texting with and be aware of the websites they are visiting. Be familiar with the apps and software they are using as well.
It may not seem fair that you can see what your children are searching for online or who they are texting, but it’s your job to keep them safe. There are apps that can monitor smartphones. Make use of parental controls. If there are apps or sites that you do not want your child to use, block them. You can also set notification so that you’re made aware when your child adds a new contact on her smartphone.
Surfing the web is not always a safe activity. There are many adult-oriented sites that your child should avoid. Plus, they need to be wary of people they are communicating with on social media. Sexual predators are lurking all over the Internet. Let your children know they should not communicate with strangers. Also, make sure they are aware that what they share online is not private. They should not share inappropriate pictures, especially anything with nudity.
Sure, it might be convenient to sit your child in front of the computer while you take a phone call, but your child needs to learn other ways to stay occupied and quiet. There are many other options. Have him play with another sibling or read a book. He can also color, draw pictures or play outside in the yard. If you bribe him with technology use, he’ll want it as an option all the time.
Think your teen won’t do it? Four out of 10 teenagers have sent sexual messages to others. Nearly one-quarter of high school students have sent nude photos to others. Fifteen percent have sent nude photos to people they know only virtually. That means they are sending graphic photos to people they have never even met! Make sure your teen is aware of what sexting is and that is not allowed under any circumstance. Keep tabs on your teen’s texting and social media activity. Be prepared to confiscate the device if you find anything inappropriate.
Talking with others is essential for language development in young children. If your toddler is always on a computer, he’s not getting the social skills he needs to succeed. Make sure you and other family members are spending time actually talking to each other.
Set aside times – like before bedtime or various times on the weekend – where technology is off limits. Participate in family activities such as walks or local trips. Encourage your child to play outside or read a book.
Children have a tendency to mimic their parents. Assess how you much time you spend online and what you are doing. If your children see you constantly checking emails and staring at your phone, they’ll think it’s OK for them to do the same. Limit your screen time and be more available to your children. You might find that the kids will be more apt to limit their screen time as well.
Your child may end up at a pornographic website or engage in online conversation with a stranger. Mistakes happen. If you find out about them, enforce punishment but also have a conversation about why the action was inappropriate. You’re not trying to be a mean parent; you just want to keep your child safe. Make it clear that it should not happen again.
Parenting is difficult enough without technology. Even though technology is now an integral part of almost every child’s life, it doesn’t have to consume them and make them afraid of the real world. With the tips above, you can successfully navigate your children through the digital age without going insane.