Modern age parenting has complexities that just weren’t present in previous generations. The digital era has brought on a range of devices, new sites popping up everywhere, social media, and 24/7 connectivity to the world. With the change in times, kids are persistently trying to try their hand at all things modern, hip, and digital.
So that’s why parenting needs to include digital parenting now too.You simply can’t parent effectively if you don’t grasp and manage the digital world your kids are growing up in.
These days it is increasingly hard to go with the old-school ways of raising kids; you can’t expect them to shun the digital world entirely! However, you can educate them about it, monitor them and limit their exposure to it.
Let’s educate ourselves with some valuable digital parenting tips from experts in the digital world.
Allow for Smartphone Breaks
“It’s important that kids recognize the importance of taking breaks from their smartphones, in addition to being alert to the real-life activity going on around them. Taking time away from the virtual environment to reconnect with the real world is beneficial in several ways, both physical and mental. It’s possible that kids won’t always be able to escape screen time, such as during school lessons that require it. However, the moment, as well as any extra time spent in front of smartphones or other devices, may have a significant effect on their lives. Sleep issues, weight gain, and even headaches and eye problems can all be side effects of too much screen time. Allowing smartphone breaks at particular times, such as at the dinner table, in the car, in the bedroom, or when participating in family activities, is a simple way to combat these issues. If children are aware of the required actions during these periods from an early age, they are more likely to comply.”
Eric McGee, Senior Network Engineer, TRGDatacenters
“More and more children are being subjected to cyberbullying. Teach your child that bullying begins with him and that he is responsible for not spreading hurtful or destructive messages, whether by text or speech. Discuss how to approach cyberbullying with your child whether he is a target or you suspect he would be. Bullying should be reported to school administrators, teachers, and parents.”
Tanya Zhang, Co-founder of Nimble Made
There Is No Such Thing As Privacy
“In certain aspects of life, children are entitled to privacy. One of them is not their mobile phone. Every night, my children are aware that I will be checking their phones. Anything is fair game, like apps, text messages, emails, and everything else. They’ll lose their phone privileges if I see anything that worries me. I’d rather protect my children than allow their privacy.”
Amit Raj, Founder Amit Digital Marketing
Teach Your Child Not To Reply To Unknown Senders Or Callers
“Scams, phishing, and spam texts may result in premium charges or give hackers access to personal information. Go over the warning signs of phishing and spam scams with your children so they know what to look for and how to protect themselves.”
Erwin Caniba, Co-Founder VPNThrive
Talk To Your Kids
“Some tips parents can discuss with the kids pertaining to using cell phones are:
“1. There is no ‘Delete’ button on the Internet and think before you post anything, because even if you delete a post or picture, there is a good chance someone still saw it and may have obtained a copy.
“2. Do not broadcast your location on social networks. You could be telling a stalker exactly where to find you or telling a thief that you are not home.
“3. Talk to your parents before you open an email attachment or download software to your phone. Attachments sometimes contain viruses. Never open an attachment from someone you do not know.”
Dr. Kellep Charles, Digital Protection Expert for SecurityOrb.com, specializing in Internet Safety.
Parental Controls, Set Limits
“Before you introduce the phone to your kid, set parental control to establish complete control of the mobile activities. Teach the kids how to access the best parts of the phone features for productive results. Show them how to connect to the internet safely using the device. Implement filters to web pages to get rid of adult content. You can set limits and restrictions to apps on the phone to protect your kid from addiction issues. You must set a time limit for gadget usage in kids. The curiosity in kids will help them to discover more even without the parent’s interference. The sole responsibility of the parents is to provide a healthy environment to sharpen their skills using digital innovations.”
Harriet Chan, Co-founder CocoFinder
Educate Kids on Important Points
“Tip#1: Develop healthy habits of using your phone. Your children will learn your attitude and actions on the phone if they are young. So You shouldn’t stick to your phone all the time and maintain some rules for yourself. Tip#2: Teach them about cost management of their phone usage. If they are not earning then you should assort a certain amount for their phone usage. That way they will learn to use their phones cost-effectively. Also, teach them basic etiquette about behaving is not just limited to phones. Be respectful and humble in their texts, calls or social media is also important to kids. You can also monitor properly what they are doing with their phone. Check on their phone every once in a while to avoid doing anything wrong with their phones.”
Olivia Tan, Co-Founder of CocoFax
“Phones provide a great way of getting in touch with your kid or tracking them for safety reasons. On the flip side, the gadgets could expose your kid to inappropriate content, introduce peer pressure, and so forth. As a parent, you want to regulate this and maintain everything on the positive end. But how do you do it?” Caroline Lee, Co-Founder of CocoSign lays out 2 important steps you need to take;
“First, set boundaries where they can use their phones. For example, you could put the ‘no phone in the bedroom or basement’ kind of restriction. Doing this makes it harder for the kid to find a hiding place for some secretive operations.
“Second, set time limits. Everyone struggles with this. So you must learn to lead by example as you set restrictions for your kid.”
However, Lee says you can’t focus solely on preaching to the kids, but doing differently for yourself. “They follow what you do, and it won’t be that easy when you preach water and drink wine. Set clear time limits for phone use; it could be 9.00 am to 7:00 pm, depending on your family routine.”
Privacy- or rather; No Privacy in Phone usage is another aspect to be set in the golden rules; “Don’t allow privacy with the gadget. There are a million areas to allow privacy; phone use should never be one of them. Ensure that you monitor whatever they have on the cellphone from apps, emails, and text messages. Also, beware of who they talk to and what they share, and let them understand that they stand losing their phone privileges if they break any of the rules you put in place. It is better to protect them than allow them their privacy.The application of this lesson and restrictions must also depend on age. For example, a kid below six must not have a cellphone, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. But, on the other hand, a 16-year old kid needs a phone with some bit of privacy.”
Caroline Lee, Co-Founder CocoSign
Digital Rules Children Need to Learn
“1. Establish a unique code word, known only to you and your parents or guardian. If someone tells you that your parents or guardian gave them permission, ask for this code word. If they cannot provide it, disconnect the call and tell your parents or guardian.
“2. Don’t provide personal information (age, birthdate, home address, etc.), or share photos to anyone unless you can verify the caller. If you are speaking with someone you do not positively know, and they ask you for personal information, ask for help from your parent or guardian right away.
“3. Password protect access to your phone. Use a password that is difficult to guess. Consider using facial recognition (if your phone has such access capability) to lessen unauthorized use of your phone. Emphasize that texting or sharing personal information about yourself or your family may be dangerous for everyone.
“4. Do not download or install applications unless you have explicit permission from a parent or guardian. Once you text a message it will forever remain accessible, even 10 years from now. Be careful, smart and prudent, text only content that you are willing to let the world read.
“5. Sexting is illegal. Both you and the recipient could face serious legal penalties, which will follow you the remainder of your life, so DON’T!
“6. When accessing sites, don’t click on pictures that offer prizes, money or allow you to play a game. These could potentially allow the site owners to steal personal/sensitive information stored on your phone.
“7. If you receive a threatening call or text, do not delete the text or phone log. Tell your parents or guardian immediately. Saving the text or phone log may assist the police in tracking the caller. Consider installing apps such as Find My Phone/Find My Device, to assist in potentially locating a lost mobile device.
“ 8. Turn off near-field communications (NFC) to mitigate the possibility of someone uploading either malware onto your phone or attempting to extract information from your phone.”
Security consultant, Dr. Al Marcella (CISA, CISM) President Business Automation Consultants,(BAC). He is the co-author of “From Street-smart to Web-wise”, an online program teaching children about cyber safety.