PARENTING IN THE DIGITAL AGE
The internet world is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can be highly resourceful when your child needs to do research for a school project. On the other hand, your child can be exposed to inappropriate content or be the victim of cyberbullying. So, as a parent, your role is to teach your child how to navigate the web safely. You will want to supervise your child’s internet usage, teach her web smarts, from net etiquette to web literacy to simple safety. Even if your child may know more than you do about technology, as an adult, you know more about life, and as a parent, you need to set rules and enforce them.
Here are a few strategies to help your child navigate the internet safely:
1. Educate yourself. Since children are digital natives, most of them know more than we do. So, our first job is to educate ourselves, so we can help them stay safe and learn digital etiquette. You can find online resources that will help you be up to date with the evolution of technology.
2. Educate your child. The same way you educate your child about social rules, make sure you have constant talking, questioning, and educating about the digital world. For instance, make sure your child knows that everything posted online is permanent, to never share passwords, even with friends, to never say anything online she would not say in person, to assume that nothing is private online, and to ask for the help of an adult with anything that feels worrisome.
3. Make family screen rules. Since the use of screens is addictive, it is essential to establish some rules. For instance, your child needs to ask permission before going online, use timers and monitoring softwares, make, post, and review contracts established together.
4. Porn-proof your child. It is a sensitive subject. However, it is a question of when and not if when your child will get exposed to porn content. Statistically speaking, most children stumble upon porn by the age of eight. So, do not hesitate to start a conversation about this topic before this age. A good book can help you introduce this difficult issue. "Good pictures bad pictures" by Kristen Jenson is a recommended book for this topic.
5. Be a role model. If you barely look up from your phone when you are with your child, do not expect your child to do differently. Model the relation with technology that you want your child to have as children copy naturally people in their environment.
It’s never too early to start teaching children healthy media habits. Educating your children by engaging them in regular discussions about the topic are ways to empower them to make safe internet choices.
As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.