Parenting today presents a separate set of challenges as parents and caregivers grapple with issues related to the Internet, new technologies, and social media. Some parents would say that dealing with a child in the digital world is enough to reduce a parent to a trembling mass of doubt and anxiety. And if that child is a pre-adolescent or adolescent, then we must triple the tremor.
But seriously, is parenting today a nightmare? Let’s take a closer look.
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you?
At the dinner table, you’ll get a quicker response if you text your teen to pass the salt.
Your child can swipe on a smartphone and find his favorite video channel on his own, at 6:00 in the morning.
Your 8-year-old is repeatedly asking for the latest and greatest smartphone because “Mom, all the other kids have them.”
His 12-year-old son is convinced he doesn’t need to study maths, English, or any other subject because he will “make it” as a YouTube star.
Hmm, so maybe some of these scenarios perfectly describe your home, or maybe they’re completely out of place, but no matter what your home looks like, there are six practical things any parent or caregiver can do to help a tech-savvy kid in the digital age.
Tips for Raising Tech-savvy Kid in 2021
Celebrate opportunities in the digital world and reduce risks.
We all heard recently regarding a horror story from the media about “a poor wayward boy” and its dangers. But parents, keep your perspective and look for the positive things young people do online. For example, this brave 13-year-old boy created a YouTube video for sensitive youth about cyberbullying. This year 18who created a website to allow motorists to challenge tickets or this 7-year-old girl who created bedtime story videos for the daughter of a fallen police officer or these boys with autism connecting through Minecraft.
The Internet, social media, and technology can present fantastic opportunities for our children, as long as they use these tools responsibly. Parents can guide their kids in responsible use by making them a habit of reading books from an early age, as seen on coolthingschicago.com.
Start the conversation and continue
You don’t need to know any of Minecraft’s clever terms to discuss the game with your child. All they have to do is ask about the game, their favorite parts, what they enjoy doing, etc. While your child is sure to be impressed if you add Minecraft terminology to the conversation, you certainly don’t have to. But for these brave parents, I could say, “Have you made a lot of changes?” or ‘How did you get from this vine?’ or ‘Wow, I didn’t think you’d come from the Nether.’
Of course, this tip applies not just to Minecraft but to all aspects of your child’s online activities. The key in here is to start the conversation, immerse yourself in your child’s digital life, and stick with it.
Do you need help starting a conversation? Take a look at these age-appropriate tips on how to keep your children safe, and you will never run out of material.
Be a Digital Role Model
Let me repeat: “Be a digital role model.” This means that you put down your smartphone, tablet, or laptop, look your child in the eye and listen. I really mean listening. Many parents think that screen balance is only for kids and teens, but the truth is that many adults need a digital detox and downtime too.
A recent survey of children identified the expectations of technology use in their families: presence, moderate use, child surveillance, no texting while driving, no hypocrites, and hopefully not too much sharing. Stop taking tons of photos of your child and post them on all Facebook accounts. Interesting change, right?
Teach your Kid to be Resilient
Parents can educate their children to be resilient and recover from some of the internet’s diseases they may inevitably experience. Parents can help their children improve their social and emotional skills so that children can understand and manage their emotions and their social world online.
Fight for the balance of the screen
Yes, we know this is probably the most challenging parent key to use since screens are ubiquitous. But I would offer these simple rules:
- Tasks first, screens later;
- Include an equal hour of truly dedicated family time for every hour of screen time.
- Set tech-free moments for the whole family.
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