Parenting Guidelines | Expert advice for parenting in digital age
Based on the 2017 Global Digital Report prepared by We Are Social, more than half of the world’s 7.476 billion people are now using the Internet in various ways. More specifically, the reported highlighted the following key statistics:
- More than half of the global population are now using smartphones.
- More than half of the world are accessing the web using their mobile devices.
- An estimated 2.8 billion are on social media which is roughly a third of the world’s population.
- The number of people on with social media presence more than doubled compared to the rate of increase reported in 2016.
These statistics also highlight why parenting in the digital age just became even more challenging. What can you do as a parent to help your child harness the countless advantages brought about by the Internet, including social media, while simultaneously reducing their risks of becoming harmed by people taking advantage of others, including very young children, using the very same technologies? One thing is for sure, that requires active parenting that will probably not be covered by even the best parenting books.
Risk Factors of Internet to our children
The growing use of the Internet, social media, and digital devices did not escape the attention of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In separate instances, the association delivered parenting guidelines prescribing limitations on children’s exposure, that includes frequency and screen time, to online media. Highlights include the following:
- For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting…(for) 18 to 24 months of age, choose high-quality programming
- For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs.
- For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
- Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
- Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.
There are two issues with these technologies that are critical in parenting today’s teens:
1. Smartphone addiction among teens. A study conducted in Korea investigated the phenomenon termed “smartphone addiction” otherwise known as “problematic smartphone use”. The researchers further observed, “preoccupation, tolerance, lack of control, withdrawal, mood modification, conflict, lies, excessive use, and loss of interest as a (sic) risk factors of smartphone addiction (which may) affect family relationships as well as peer relationships in schools and cause long term sequela.”
2.Vulnerability of teens to crimes inflicted by online predators. According to the UK National Crime Agency, “More and more teenagers and young people are getting involved in cyber crime. Many do it for fun without realising the consequences of their actions – but the penalties can be severe.” Cyber offenses will probably have to be one of the least parenting problems when it comes to teaching proper use of social media for kids. Online predators who can endanger the safety and security of your household and even sexually exploit your child, and cyber bullying will have to be the worst.
7 Expert advices for parenting in digital age
In general, there are two forms of cybercrimes: those that are exclusive to the use of the Internet and associated software and hardware, such as hacking and phishing, and those traditional crimes that use the Internet as a medium, such as robbery and pornography. Given different parenting styles, you may use the following pointers on how to discipline a teenager when using the Internet and associated devices not only to keep him or her safe but also to help your child achieve well-rounded development:
1. Strengthen connection. Even in the Digital Age, the extent to which you can keep your child from being harmed depends greatly on fostering good parent-child relationship. It is imperative that your child trusts you, and trust is not something that you automatically obtain by virtue of being a parent, you need to work hard to earn it.
2.Take care of their phone contact list. Teenagers will hate you for this but, when you get to explain clearly why you want in, they might understand. You can broker a deal with your child to buy him or her a phone but that you’ll be free to access everything. There are also apps that you can use to control the kind of content your child has access to, and even help you track your child’s online access.
3. Monitor text messages and multimedia messages. You can do this for younger children but, it is also often cited as a bad parenting practice. So, how to handle teenagers? The best way is still to earn their trust but, in any case, it does make it alright to snoop every once in a while if you are dealing with a problematic teenager. Report anything suspicious to authorities.
4. Monitor and control their usage. Set limits. Again, this is easier to do for younger children and much harder for older teenagers. Give advice to teenage son and daughter about withholding information from strangers and learning to be discreet on their social media accounts.
5. Regularly review picture and reviews. How many times have you heard, news about teenagers posing nude for pedophiles or cyber bullied for nudity? Raising teenage daughters and even sons these days must include teaching them about proper online conduct and never to pose nude for photos or videos.
6. Keep the computer in common area of house.This is one way that you can help monitor device usage. This way, your child is also kept aware of his or her limitations when online.
7. Organize outdoor fun during weekends. This is just one way of getting all members of your family offline and build memories together. Other than this, designate device-free times or activities such as rules like “devices off during dinner” or no smartphones in school.
You are leaving online footprints every time you access the Internet, post on Facebook, shoot an email, shoutout on Instagram, and what not. Your child is doing it at a much earlier age. However way your child chooses to use the Internet eventually takes a toll on his or her future. Help your child choose well with proper awareness, education and discipline.