Parenting in the Digital Age

GIrl with hands over face cyberbullying

3 Key Things You Should Know

Guest Post by Marie Fincher

Over the past decade, the digital age has slowly integrated into every segment of our lives. We use it for communication, business, education, traveling and even health care. We have smartphones, tablets, computers, and laptops and we use them every single day. Our children are not an exception.

The digital age is affecting the way our children are growing up and comprehending the world around them. As parents, we need to be able to take control over the way they are using the internet and their devices. If you’re not sure what to look out for and how the digital age can mislead your child, take a look at the key things enlisted below. It will help you stay alert and take the right steps in preventing the problems your child might face.


Social Media Addiction

Creating a social media account is one of the first things your child will ask you to allow. Let’s discuss your options and look at the facts.

Social media addiction is a serious issue more and more, especially young people, are experiencing. The typical symptoms are:

  • constantly checking your social media accounts
  • using your phone to scroll whenever you have nothing to do
  • feeling anxious when you lose/forget your phone
  • connecting to WiFi wherever you are

It’s highly likely that your child can develop the same kind of addiction if you don’t put some sort of boundaries on using social media.

Here are your options:

Delay

  • Try to delay the moment of your child joining social media, for as long as you can.

Control

  • It’s inevitable that the moment will come. When it does, set some rules. For a young child, it’s best that you:
    • know their password
    • check their activity
    • check their messages

This way you’ll be in control of things and know what your child’s been up to on social media. You’ll be able to detect any kind of unsafe behavior or even threatening situations.

Cyberbullying

Children can be cruel and you never know what kind of behavior they can conduct when no one is watching.

According to Comparitech, as of August 2016, 16.9 percent of middle and high school students identified themselves as cyberbully victims.

The term cyberbullying refers to using the internet, especially social media and messaging services in order to:

  • harass
  • threaten
  • verbally assault
  • intimidate

It can happen to your child and it could make a huge impact on his life. That’s why you should be able to recognize the symptoms of a child experiencing it:

  • hiding his devices
  • sudden emotional changes
  • refusing to go to school
  • closing up and not wanting to talk

However, cyberbullying can happen the other way around. Your child might be the bully. This is why you need to be in control over your child’s device usage.

Whatever the case is, it’s your job to recognize it and stop it.

GIrl with hands over face cyberbullying
source: Pixabay

Kids look up to you

 

Children are most likely to copy the behavior of their parents in all spheres of everyday life. From eating habits to manners and communication, they are like little sponges.

The same goes for using devices and being active online.

There are two things every parent needs to teach their child, in order to be digitally aware:

Use the internet wisely

You cannot make your child disconnect from the internet completely. It’s unnecessary and close to impossible. Also, it’s wrong.

The internet is a blessing if you use it wisely.

Let your child know how to use the internet in order to:

  • learn a new skill
  • watch quality movies
  • research their topics of interest
  • express themselves
  • inform themselves

You need to teach your children that the internet is so much more than Snapchat and text messages.

Device-free zones

According to a study by Trust My Paper, setting up family rules about using devices leads to quality family time and stronger bonds.

Let us clarify: a device-free zone is a place or a time where and when you simply don’t use any devices. Instead, you enjoy the present moment.

Here’s what should be a device-free zone:

  • the bedroom
  • the dining table
  • a birthday party
  • a family gathering
  • a family vacation

Don’t forget it starts with you. Make sure you follow the rules you set up for your kids and you’ll ensure they act accordingly.

Conclusion

Even though the digital age has brought many benefits and advantages, there’s still the problem of it affecting the productiveness and development of our children. However, there’s nothing else you can do but keep your eyes wide open. In addition, ensure your child is aware of the proper behavior by setting up a good example.

The digital age isn’t going to take control over of child’s life, unless you fail to do so. Use the advice provided above to help you cope with the parenting struggles in the digital age. Finally, be open about everything with your child. A good communication will make the whole thing easier for both of you.