Technology has become such an integral and deeply-embedded part of our kids’ lives that it isn’t always possible to control it as much as we would have liked to. However, you can use the following strategies to raise your kids to be responsible and safe in the technology-driven era:
Discuss Digital Citizenship
Discuss with your kids what digital citizenship entails. Talk to them about how people use technology as a family with safety and how good digital citizens deal with relationships and privacy online. When kids discuss with their parents’ ways to manage digital issues early on in their lives, they are more prone to react suitably or seek help when facing a problem. You could even direct them to several websites with informative, interactive lessons related to digital citizenship, like commonsense.org.
Encourage the use of technology for its planned purposes, but try not to allow it to invade your family life. Ensure to make your kids recognize that there are suitable times to use technology and other times where they should stay away from it. You can establish boundaries related to the using technology, such as not allowing your kids to bring their phones to the dinner table or play games on their gadgets while eating. Doing this will help preserve the idea of dinner time being a tech-free family time for eating food and having discussions. You can also set a cut-off time at night by which your kids should turn off all their electronic gadgets. This small step will help them identify and abide by the set boundaries and even foster healthy sleep habits.
Be Their Role Model for Teaching Healthy Tech Habits
Kids learn and imitate you. To teach them healthy tech habits, you should practice them yourself, like putting your own devices away when talking to your kids and not checking your phone the moment you wake up in the morning.
When it’s age-appropriate, show your kids your own digital footprints and point out how every action of theirs online gets stored for posterity as digital records. To drive home your point, you can try using role-play for real-life scenarios, like pretending to be an employer planning to recruit a new employee and examining how a candidate’s diverse digital footprints can influence whether or not he gets hired.
Use Technology to Forge Connections
Primarily, technology is designed to enhance lives. You should use technology to connect with your kids, family members, friends, and others by remembering this. You can use Skype to interact with family members who stay far away, teach your kids photo editing skills to tell their stories, and even have a merry time playing games with them! Some popular apps and games (such as Heads Up!) even have kids’ editions that you can participate in during your family time.
As your kids start their journey to become digital citizens by using new technologies, talk to them and model healthy tech habits. The more communicative and accessible you become while discussing technology with your kids, the more likely they’ll be to use it effectively and safely.