As your child grows, your rules for them will need to change. This article offers guidance for setting suitable rules for the right ages.
As a parent, it can be difficult to feel confident about what rules you should set and when to allow them to move on to the next thing. It’s important to be consistent and aware of the risks, yet open to discussion and willing to be flexible as they grow older and more curious.
Five tips for successfully setting digital rules
1. Find out what rules your child’s friends have been set and discuss with other parents, so you can be consistent across their social group.
2. Explain the rules to your child to help them understand what they are and why they are needed.
3. As the rule maker, be clear, firm and consistent. Changing the rules to suit will only confuse your child.
4. Help younger children understand why certain rules do not always apply to older ones.
5. Think about your own online activities and what example you are setting when it comes to screen time, sharing and other activities.
What is right for your child?
The curious explorers – ages 4 to 7
Children at this age are starting to become increasingly interested in the digital world around them. It’s important to allow them some freedom to explore the online world, but also to do it safely.
Apps like YouTube Kids may give filtered access to social media, but some inappropriate content can occasionally slip through the net, so keep an eye on what your child is viewing.
They may be aware of and interested in games for older children (i.e., those rated PEGI 12, like Fortnite) but be aware that some contain violent content and an in-game chat function.
Growing independent – ages 8 to 12
Children at these ages are likely to have an increased interest in social media, most likely through friends and role models. Many social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, have age 13+ restrictions but this won’t stop your child being interested in setting up their own accounts.
Show an active interest in the platforms they are talking about, whether discussing how sharing selfies makes them feel or if they believe all the images they see online are real. This can help to develop a bond, and shows the child that you are taking an active interest in their online world.
Children’s moods can be affected by social media, so make sure they are confident and happy to confide in you if they have had an upsetting or confusing experience online. It’s better to be involved and help them if something has gone wrong.
Expressing themselves – ages 13 to 15
Teens become more conscious about their use of the internet and can use social media to express and explore their interests. It’s likely your child will be curious and search for sites and topics you may not think they are ready for.
Help them be aware of, and critical about, what they may come across online. Being able to understand potential risks – such as extremist, violent or pornographic content – can help them to assess the dangers and make better decisions about what is suitable for them.
For more advice on setting boundaries that work for your family, head here
This article is by Parent Zone, the experts in digital life.