Kids today are often are more computer savvy than their parents. One of the biggest parenting challenges is keeping track what our kids are viewing online and how much time they are spending in the virtual world. There’s no keeping youth off the Internet, so much of their social world is online; but parents do need to regulate their children’s exposure if only to keep them away from adult sites and potential predators.
Here are a few things to remember when managing your children’s Internet exposure:
- Parenting remains the same as always in the real and virtual environments. Set limits; kids need and expect them. Teach kindness. Be involved. Know who their friends are.
- Role models are critical. Limit your own online time. Attentive parenting requires time away from screens.
- Content matters even more than time spent online. Prioritize how your child spends their time rather than just setting a timer.
- Co-engagement helps. Play a video game with your child. Your perspective influences how kids will understand their time on-line.
- Require time every day for traditional play with the computer off.
- It’s OK for your teen to be online. Online relationships are critical for adolescent development. Teach your teen behaviors that are appropriate for the online and everyday world.
- Kids will be kids. When they make a mistake, make it a teachable moment.
Students will be of legal age by the time they are seniors. So a teenager should understand your family’s values, rules and expectations around technology/social media long before they reach high school.
Always stress the difference between life online and real life. We need more hugs than “likes.” We need conversations, not status updates. We need to grow up, not a software update. It’s all in striking a balance. Computers are wonderful tools, but that is all they are. We live our lives ourselves.
Learn More: Raising Resilient Kids: Parenting in the Digital Age Watch as Pediatrician Dr. Natasha Burgert describes how children’s brains develop and the impact technology has on them.