Raising a tech smart kid, insights you need to know.
In the age of the internet, how to parent these tech- savvy kids, especially when their brain and body is hitting developmental overdrive?
It's complicated, but you can do it.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Parenting was never easy, but technology has intricated it even more. Technology and the internet has changed the world; it looks far different from the way we were raised. It opened the door to avenues we never knew existed.
Especially in the current situation, when school and most of the social interaction move online, technology is helping us thrive. But in spite of its enormous opportunities, the internet also poses a faceless threat.
Unlike the physical world, where we shut the door and feel our children safe. On the contrary, sitting indoors, we leave the door open to predators, cyber bullies, trolls, and marketers gimmicks.
Besides their looms concern for online safety, cyber - crime, dopamine producing games, mindless activity on the internet, social media, and screen addiction. Here we struggle to restrict screen time, Snapchat Instagram and Roblox use.
Why not? Social media is designed, keeping in mind the survival part of the brain to keep us hooked.
In addition, our children navigate childhood and adolescence at a time when social media could potentially magnify the consequences of their mistakes. And marketers get hold of the information for their own gimmicks.
“In 2017, a leaked Facebook internal memo showed how the social network can identify when teens feel "insecure," "worthless," and "need a confidence boost."
While we mostly stay in the dark about what is actually happening in their life. We don’t know what are they up to? Who are they talking to? What are they doing?
When we lurk and pry on their online activities, they find it intruding and start hiding instead of sharing.
Moreover, when they face any threat, instead of coming to adults, they prefer to go and talk to their friends or to strangers.
Then we think - How to make our children share their fears?
How to guide them to embrace the good of technology and avoid bad?
This brings us to the crucial junction where we need to focus on teaching the skills our children need to manage tech in a healthy and resilient way. And learn the skills to explore the online world responsibly.
Choose your approach:
Total control- Should we stop the complete access?
Command and control seems to be the easiest way out, but this approach mostly fails because it interferes with our ability to communicate clearly and to influence them.
"Do this, as I say" is a non - effective approach. It creates an environment of mistrust. Children start hiding stuff instead of sharing and they find ways to outsmart us.
Free Access- giving an ownership to the children to decide for themselves and don’t act as a watchdog.
Giving complete authority may give rise to insecure access and activities, screen addiction, and sometimes, involvement in prohibited activities.
Creating awareness, responsibility, acceptable behaviour, and open communication- The third approach works better. We need to create an environment of mutual trust, open communication and awareness about possible threats and acceptable online behaviour.
We should talk to our children about the possible threats and how to deal with any unknown crises and teach them:
· How to communicate in the digital world?
· What are the appropriate ways and proper behaviour online?
· How to protect their own information and others?
· In the age of live updates, what could be the outcome if anything goes wrong.
Online “stranger danger”:
Online predators groom children and develop a bond where children start trusting and share intimate details, pictures and get involved in illicit activities.
These predators develop a relationship with the child, so when that solicitation comes, they no longer feel like a stranger.
Like, we don’t allow our children to talk to strangers or leave them home alone, similarly, we need to be watchful of whom they are interacting with online.
What to do:
· Explain them to identify the ‘red flags’ (inappropriate stuffs) when they talk to people online.
· They shouldn’t comply with others inappropriate demands, like sharing personal pictures, intimate details, risky act of harming self or anyone else.
Set clear boundaries:
Children use Instagram, Snapchat, Tik Tok, Youtube, Roblox, Minecraft, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Zoom but unlimited access to any of these compulsive phone usage or mindless spending time creates addiction.
After all, social media and games are designed keeping in mind the survival part of the brain.
It is the thinking part of the brain, however, that’s required to manage tech and impulse control, which in children is still developing.
That's why we need to ensure that our kids should control the devices, not vice versa.
Talk to your child about the limit of media access. This includes weekly screen-time limits, restrictions on the kinds of screens they can use, and guidelines on the types of activities they can do or programs they can watch.
But, before imposing restrictions, talk and explain to them your approach. Take their view in consideration and arrive at a common acceptable limit.
What to do:
In a calm and playful manner, discuss creating a family mantra for tech use.
· Limits should be age appropriate, like, limit screen use to one hour per day of high-quality programs for children age 2 to 5 years.
· As they grow, mature and are more responsible, make adjustments to the limit.
Explain the reasons behind the rules and the process you went through to reach the rules.
· To avoid the constant urge to check device, encourage task-oriented screen time.
· Create a realistic schedule.
· Check what are they going to do and how long, to avoid getting lost in the tech world.
· Stay firm on the set rules.
Be involved and stay watchful:
Kids make impulsive and risky choices. They are going to make mistakes and that’s how they learn. The only problem is making mistakes online can have dire consequences. Their mistakes never go away.
What to do:
· Keep yourself updated and check reviews of the apps, sites, games, content, which they are using such as: Minecraft, Roblox, Frotnite, etc, and other media.
· Keep a check on their browsing history, but keep age-appropriate supervision
· You can also use parental restrictions based on your child’s age, again depending on the age, for grown- up children, avoid constant direction, and micro-management.
· Stay aware of feed suggestions - Insta feed and Snapchat stories give a glimpse on the world of their peers.
· Be informed what are they posting, what are they seeing, and what people are talking about.
Develop comfort and bond:
Often children get into the evil trap because they do not feel heard or they are scared of the consequences.
What to do:
· Try building a bond of comfort where the child doesn’t hesitate to speak their mind.
Use respectful language to communicate with your child
Listen carefully and hear their feelings.
Avoid shame, blame and criticism.
Plan a game night. Play with them occasionally. Children drop their apprehension when they see their parents participating.
· Create a family media plan with consistent rules
· Take interest in your child’s interest.
Empower children by giving them information and cultivating a habit of owning up and making wise decision for themselves.
Though it’s difficult for them to regulate their emotions after so much arousal and stimulation.
“It is frustrating to have to stop doing something that feels so good and transition to something less exciting.” But that’s what they need to learn to self-regulate.
What to do:
Support your children and celebrate their exploration
· Help kids moderate their own habits
· Teach how to own up and self-regulate
· Encourage resilience
· Cultivate interest in other physical activities
Pick appropriate media:
It could be tough if you are not a tech-savvy person yourself. Still, you have to keep a tap on your child’s online activities.
What to do:
· Read a review of movies, apps and content they can watch. Tough, but try to stay informed.
Try out No-gadget-in the- room policy:
What is the first and last thing we hold each day? It’s our phones. There seems a compulsion to look into our phones. While the data suggest that the blue light emitted by the devices results in less REM sleep.
What to do?
· Why not making a rule of no device before bed time for all? It might take a while and effort to let go of that habit, but we need to act what we preach.
Devices and the internet have become our part of life, with their numerous benefits. We can’t shun them away. All we need to do is to embrace the good and reject the bad of it. How can we do that takes a lot of effort. But we need to do in our children’s best interest.
Help us know how are you raising a smart tech child. Leave your opinion in the comment section below. We love to hear from you.