Raising children in the world of technology
The world around us is gradually getting divided into two, a real one and a virtual one and so are our social commitments. From attending the wedding parties, birthdays, convocation, funerals, paying regular visits to friends & family to updating the status on social media networks, feeling sad, happy, excited, commenting, sharing, liking, following, poking etc. our generation is caught between this social transition where we understand the importance of our culture and values but at the same time cannot deny the informative, easy, entertaining, exciting and connective side of technology. We see our children getting addicted to technology and social media but most of the times we feel helpless because we ourselves belong to this age of technology and are not unaware of its different advantages. I am sure like me most of you are entangled in apprehensions like should we let our children get influenced by the technology? Is it really as good as people claim it to be? Does it have so many negative effects? What would be the impact in a longer run? Can it really lead to diseases like cancer? Or a poor brain development?
In my opinion technology and social media has not only become an indispensable part of our lives but is a way of life in itself. A way of life driven by rules, values, principles and commitments is always fruitful so is the case with a technology driven life style. As parents it is for us to realize the importance of technology at the same time define and inculcate some rules and principles when it comes to using technology by our children. In today’s article I have tried to bring out some ways in which we can get our children use technology effectively.
Though in the present day scenario children from all age groups are addicted to gadgets and internet but teens are at the center of these issues like cyber bullying, vulgar texting, over exposure etc. The repercussions of these issues can be quite damaging; but how does a parent step in and monitor their teen’s social media use? With the proper tactics, social media monitoring can be done with success, and parents can ensure that their teens are using these outlets responsibly.
Become Their “Friend”
One of the best ways that parents can monitor their teens’ social media use is by being an active user of the sites their children are using. Create a Facebook profile and ‘friend’ your child. This will allow you to keep a close eye on what your child is viewing – and posting. If you notice that any issues arise, you can ask and talk to them right away before problems become worse.
Talk About It
Parents should talk to their teens about their own social media use. Facilitating conversations about your own social media use will not only allow your children to learn about proper practices, but it will also encourage them to share how they use it themselves. When your children talk about their social media use, you can keep a closer eye on what they are doing and correct any behavior, should it be warranted. Also let your child know the dangers of social media and what could potentially happen if they use it incorrectly.
Stay in View
Make sure that the computer in your home is in easy view. This will allow you to keep an eye on what your kids are doing on social media and monitor how much time they are spending on social media channels. It also would not be a bad idea to limit the time they spend on their cell phones. After all they are teens and should be staying active, not just glued to a screen.
Sometimes the best way for your kids to learn the gravity of a situation is by being blunt. Explain to your teens that everything that is placed on social media can be seen by virtually the entire world. Pictures that are shared on Facebook and messages that are sent over Twitter can be seen by a huge audience. Make it very clear that it is in their best interest to post properly, and that they should set appropriate privacy settings. In fact, you can set their privacy settings for them.
Restricted screen time
Restrict your child’s screen time and get him/ her involved into other outdoor /indoor activities as too much screen time and not enough other activities, such as reading, playing games, and good old unstructured and imaginative play, will result in your children having their brains wired in ways that may make them less, not more, prepared to thrive in this crazy new world of technology.
While the pace of technology requires us to be ever vigilant about the online boons and threats, the ultimate solution is to have a great relationship of trust with our children. Frequent, heartfelt and non-judgmental conversations are the best vehicles for protecting our loved ones. Though sometimes difficult and time consuming, there is no better solution to keep a family safe and intact.
(The author is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Learning Arena, an e-learning company)