Raising kids in a digital world isn't easy, especially when school closures and mandatory isolation has resulted in children spending more time online for educational and social purposes. We've gathered a few tips to help you keep them safe
The “appropriate age” dilemma
Under parental supervision, begin with kid-friendly games and educational websites, such as interactive typing or maths adventures. Common Sense Media offers independent reviews and age recommendations for children’s apps and online games to guide parents and educators.
Parental controls activated
Security measures such as blocking inappropriate adverts, prohibiting access to certain websites, monitoring visited sites and login times, and using child-safe phones are critical initial steps. This may feel intrusive initially, it is a responsible way to introduce kids to the internet without exposing them to unsafe content, and a way to put your mind at ease. Follow this user’s manual to set up parental controls on all your devices.
When to say “no” and why
Roughly 95 per cent of teens now either have smartphones or have access to one, says a PEW study. Forty five per cent of teens admitting to constantly being online. If you’re not going to let kids log on, explain why. The process of walking children through decision-making will prepare them for a day when they have to decide what is appropriate or tolerable, advises Meghan Walbert, parenting editor of Lifehacker. The following New York Times article provides actionable steps on successfully setting ground rules to limit our children’s tech use.
Social media, yay or nay?
An Oxford study found that social media offers a useful way to educate and promote mental well-being in adolescents despite the risks. “The key to all of this for parents is to understand the technology, set usage rules, set privacy settings and, most importantly, train your kids to practice responsible online behavior,” says Caroline Knorr, parenting editor at Common Sense Media. Here is a list of best social media networks for young kids and the best ways to support our teens towards positive online behaviour.
The bright side
It’s not all doom and gloom! The internet opens up a world of opportunities for our children – something the majority of us never had at that age. Although there are challenges, we can mitigate these risks through awareness, proper controls, open communication, and responsible parenting.