The risks are very real. Internet predators do lure kids into meeting them, resulting in tragedies that include abduction and murder. So in the same way that you appropriately monitor your child’s physical whereabouts, you’ll want to supervise your child’s Internet usage and teach her web smarts, from net etiquette to web literacy and simple safety.
Where do you begin? Online, of course. Start by educating yourself – then you’ll be in a better position to protect and direct your kids. Just remember that while your kids may know more than you do about technology, you know more about life. And you are allowed to set the rules and enforce them. You are still the parent!
Keeping your kids safe online doesn’t just mean keeping them safe from predators. The most common danger of kids using devices is the addiction. Most adults have a hard time managing their own device usage, so it’s not surprising that our kids beg for screen time and have a hard time turning off their devices.
Tired of fights about screen time? There are some things you can do to help your child avoid device addictions, beginning with these tips:
1. Face the Truth about Devices
They’re addictive, and they change the way our brains work. When we let our children use devices, we are leaving them at the mercy of this addiction. That’s why it is our responsibility to support our children in learning to manage their use of devices.
2. Take Responsibility for Your Child’s Use of Devices
Which devices are you going to allow in your house? How can you teach your children to use each one responsibly? At what age is it appropriate to introduce each kind of device to your child? It is your right as a parent to manage your child’s activities online because that is a public sphere (unlike a diary, for instance, which is private).
3. Walk Your Talk
Needless to say, if you barely look up from your phone when you’re with your child, you can expect your child to act the same way in a few years. Children often say “My mum snaps at me when I interrupt her when she’s on her computer….” That’s only natural. But is whatever you’re doing at that moment really more important than your child?
4. Guide Your Child
If you’re going to let your child use devices, you can expect some “addicted” behaviour. Don’t blame your child. Give him or her the support needed to manage his or her relationship with electronics. Make some family rules, such as:
- Talk to your kids about each new social media channel or device when they start using it
- Make written contracts
- Keep all device usage in the public areas of your home
- Constantly monitor and enforce your agreements
- Use timers and monitoring software
- Be the computer administrator
- Schedule some technology-free time on weekends
- Enforce the “No social media until after homework is finished” rule
See A Problem in Your Child’s Device Usage? Most Likely, There’s A Real-Life Problem Too.
Intervene appropriately. Don’t wait. Stay connected with your child so you know what’s going on in his life and sense when there’s a problem.
Suggested reading: All You Need to Know About Impulse Control
Republished with permission from Dr. Laura Markham, founder of AhaParenting.com and author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How To Stop Yelling and Start Connecting and Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life.