Children’s online experiences are driven and affected by many things: friends and celebrities, emerging apps, tech and trends, interests, education and much more. But there is one consistent influence on their digital lives that comes from closer to home: you.
Young people will always pick up habits from the adults in their lives, so it is important that you set the best example from the start. Here is how you can be a top-notch tech role model.
Understanding their online world
Children are growing up surrounded by technology and the opportunities that it brings. Understanding the spaces they want to explore – whether it is parental settings available on their social media or chat functions in their online games – will help when managing their safety. You don’t have to be a tech genius, but by showing an interest and doing a little homework you can help them explore more safely and respond if they have a problem.
Leading by example
Children generally react well to clear and consistent boundaries – but if you limit their screen time while not monitoring your own, it can send mixed messages. Of course, rules don’t always apply to people of different ages, but some simple and fair rules, such as no devices at dinner time or before bedtime, can set a better example to follow.
Sharing is caring
It is important that children and young people understand that some things are not right to share online. One way to help them understand this is by asking them for permission before posting a picture of them on your social media. Perhaps they would rather you didn’t, which is their right, and sets a better example for how to consider others before posting or commenting.
Don’t be a critic
Even if you don’t like the video content they watch, whether toy unboxing or shouting YouTubers, remember that they are watching for a reason: they enjoy it. Unless you are concerned that the content is not appropriate for their age, try to show interest rather than being judgemental about entertainment you perhaps just don’t understand.
Open up about your own digital life
Your kids may not be interested, granted, but show them what you do online: what you read, play or watch. Making them feel a part of your online life, in whichever form that takes, will help them feel it is OK to be open and honest about what they do or want to do. You can also use this to discuss how to manage a healthier digital life: for example, how, when and why you decide to have a screen break.
Five practical ways to help manage your digital life:
- Use your ‘out of office’ message so you feel less pressure to look at work emails at home.
- Keep your phone in your pocket or handbag when you pick the kids up from school.
- Buy an alarm clock so you don’t have your devices in the bedroom.
- Try breaking up your daily online routines. For example, don’t check Facebook or your favourite sites until your kids go to school.
- Try adding a tech-free day to your calendar. It’s not as hard as it sounds!
This article was originally written in partnership with Parent Zone.
For more information about Digital Parenting, visit Vodafone UK’s dedicated website.