Do you ever feel like technology is leaving you behind? We’re currently living through a time with arguably the most innovation ever seen before in recent history. This living experiment with technology may have come into reality after your childhood of biking around the community and coming home when the lights came on, but it has fully engulfed the lives of our children.As products of the “Stranger Danger” era, most parents still believe that the “real world” is more dangerous than the digital world of smartphones & tech, despite the mounting evidence that this is not the case. If you have a child, you know that they are spending A LOT of time on their phones or computers, but do you actually know what they’re doing? Below we will explore a variety of ways you can better understand the lives of your children, as well as protect your kids online.
Understand The Digital Landscape
With so many new apps and platforms, it can often feel easier to throw your hands up in the air and give up on ever catching up to what your kids may be doing online. Although it may be unrealistic to become a well-versed digital genius, It’s very important to have a working knowledge of the latest trends and social platforms. Oftentimes, dangers like cyberbullying or predatory behavior can be subtle and overlooked if you’re not well versed in internet culture.
Attempting to understand the nuance in the digital lives of your children can not only open your eyes to any potential risks but also allows you to be better prepared and intouch with the times when your kids come to talk to you.
Be Their Best Resource
Kids today are learning new things at a much faster rate than their parents ever did. This can be an incredible thing when it comes to education and building a community that is not available to you in person, however, it can also rob parents of the chance to have larger talks with their kids.
Conversations like “the birds and the bees” should be addressed in an open and supportive environment earlier than you might expect. This is due to the fact that sensitive material is available at your children’s fingertips on demand, often shaping young minds with little guidance.
Issues such as access to pornography and sexting or sending explicit pictures/videos are one of the biggest issues facing children and teens today.
By having an open door policy with your kids when it comes to these topics, it can help mitigate the risk of them learning about things like sex and relationships from their friends or even strangers online.
Don’t Contract “NMK” Syndrome
An illness that many parents often contract is NMK Syndrome aka Not My Kid Syndrome. When we get stuck on the idea that our kids or our kids’ friends could never be capable of things like cyberbullying, sexting or talking to predators online, we need to accept that this is in fact false.
The internet is not inherently good or bad, but it can bring out the best or worst in people, even our children. It’s our task as parents to help guide our children through their online and offline landscapes, all the while knowing that your child is not above being victimized online or contributing to things like cyberbullying.
Empower & Support
You will probably never know everything there is to learn about the internet and technology and that’s ok! By making yourself available to your children both physically (not always on your phone as well) and emotionally for conversations both big and small, you show your kids that they have access to supportive, open and active parents.
Despite the name, social media is extremely isolating and your kids can feel alone. By showing them support and building a trusted community around them you can combate some of the more negative aspects of the digital era.
Ultimately the internet can be an incredible resource available to us and our kids, but it’s important to understand it, not fight it, educate yourself on it and most importantly be available to provide guiding support and a loving place to land.
Interested in learning more about the age of technology and how it affects our children? Check out this free documentary Childhood 2.0.