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15 Ways to Keep Your Kids Safe Online

February 14, 2014 By: workIT

(Extract from Parenting Digital Natives - How to Cross the Digital Divide)

Technology, like Rock 'n Roll, is here to stay. It is not going anywhere. So we need to face our fear and deal with it. We cannot fight it, run from it or refuse to allow it to exist. Here are some tips that will help you to start parenting your digital natives a bit more effectively.

 

1. Accept that technology is here to stay and make a commitment to yourself to try and embrace it.

2. Don't believe all the bad press technology gets. Technology does not damage your brain, make you lonely or turn you into a gun-wielding teenager - you do that.

3. Take an interest in what your children are doing. Sit down and watch their favourite TV program with them or spend a bit of time watching them playing a game on their computer.

4. Ask them about the game, what the objective is, why they like it, whether they can play it virtually with others.

5. Play with them - you never know - you may unleash your inner-gamer.

6. Set boundaries and stick to them. Involve your children in setting the limits. Discuss balance with them and ask what boundaries they think will help them achieve balance between family time, homework, friends, sport and technology. Implement them. ***

7. Don't believe the standard "2 hours" screen time suggested by your childrens educators. They are more than likely as technologically challenged and terrified as you. There is no "ideal" time. Each child is different. You will also see, once you've played a game yourself, that you will start having hateful thoughts if the plug gets pulled just as you're about to slay the final dragon.

8. Knowledge is power. Educate yourself. Read to keep abreast of what is going on and to stay in touch with is happening technologically and the things your children are involved in.

9. Get your child to help you to learn. Ask them to help you with something you've been struggling with technologically - or ask them how something works.

10. Talk to your children about the "old-days", about writing and mailing letters, about telephones with round dials or even mobile phones that were as big as bricks. Talk about how cell phones have given us constant line of communication to our friends and family and try to imagine what it was like when you were young and had to go and find a phone in order to communicate. How do they think this has changed the way we interact?

11. Remember that your children are different. They have  grown up in a very different world. They can 'tune out' of some things and 'tune in' to other things as needed. This is why if they're watching TV or texting on their cell phone they may well not notice someone walking into the same room or even speaking to them. They're not being rude. They're 'tuned-out'. Move between them and the screen or physically touch them to get their attention.

12. Allow them to play silly things like 'Candy Crush' or subscribe to pages like 'I hate Justin Bieber'. Doing these things doesn't mean that everything they do online is nebulous. Most of what they do is incredibly creative - manipulating photographs, creating graphics, videos and songs.

13. Tell them to ignore online bullying and give them a lesson on constructive criticism. Take them to a blog/website where there are comments and go though the comments with them (metacritic.com is a good one). Discuss which comments are thoughtful and wich idiotic.

14. Cut them some slack. Our children have grown up in a digital age. We feel bombarded my all the information thrown at us thanks to all this new technology. They don't. They are able to multi-task and filter far more than us. They are used to having several different things going on at once and are often able to focus better when there is more than one thing going on at a time. This is why school bores them and why they can actually study better for maths when they're listening to music.

15. When it comes to online social sites - watch their backs, don't snoop. Regularly remind them of the dangers of online life and ensure their privacy settings are appropriate. You'll probably find that their privacy settings are far better than yours. Kids are tech-savvy and there has in fact been a drop in online exploitation in the past few years because kids are so savvy and can easily recognise a dodgy character.

Of these 15 points I believe No. 10 to be the most important of all. Communication is vital to everything (even sans technology) Communicating gets you and your children thinking and talking about what they're doing, and it provides you with information about what they're doing. 

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