Digital age is rapidly evolving. With this evolution, the dilemma around the right use of Social Media and the Internet is emerging as one of the biggest challenges for us. We’re the first generation of parents, raising kids in the Internet Era and at times we are puzzled with this scary parenting.
What we as parents need to draft is the right mix and appropriate usage of the Internet for kids. Having said that, such plans can never be perfect, but it will always be a mix of responses based on our personal experiences and expert advice. When we are traveling, or on a family dinner, it always pains me to see that kids are often occupied with their iPads and Phones busy playing games or watching videos. And at times, even the parents are busy scrolling, reading e-mails and texting.
Have you pondered why kids are being diverted more and more to using the gadgets? I’ve seen kids howling, banging, and shouting when they are refused their tabs or phones. Have these gadgets become our lifelines? We’re all facing the aftermath of excess digital use and kids are in no way untouched.
Right from Cyber Bullying to behavioral changes as aggression, kid’s response in the form of fight, flight or freeze with parents is consistently increasing. The effects are also seen in the form of dissociation and detachment when kids feel the pangs of stress during face to face interactions. While kids choose their video plays over an outdoor play with friends, it does impact their overall social development. The lack of real interactions takes them away from the real challenges of life.
While online privacy and inappropriate content is a big challenge, the budding stress of FOMO (fear of missing out) on social media is gripping hard.
When we were kids, the access to technology was way limited, we had more real interactions and outdoor plays, more peaceful moments and calm environment. There were no consistent notifications and a child used to get perfect parental attention. Life was free of many such distractions, which cannot be overruled now.
It is time that we opt for a subtle approach while raising kids.
1. Do not ban Social media or Internet usage completely. This will not serve the purpose, as kids ought to be “digital ready” for their future. Set your Family screen time. Ensure that no one in the family is using phones while having dinner together while playing together and at least 30minutes before sleep.
2. Raise Socially responsible kids: Make kids understand how the Internet can be a boon as well as a bane. Guide them on the righteous ways of using the internet. Make them understand the criticality of “Terms & Conditions”. Help them understand fake and real sites.
3. Limit your access to gadgets and Social media: Kids imitate perfectly, rather than asking them flatly to shun the usage, you need to show them the right way. Try not to scroll Facebook, Instagram when you are spending time with kids.
4. Discuss Safety measure Online: Share with them about the Cyber Safety Rules and how to deal with Cyber Bullying. You need to help them understand the importance of passwords, the right language to be used and how to deal with their personal information.
5. Parental monitoring: It’s no shame to adopt to monitoring kids online history. Keep on monitoring the privacy policies of your child’s gadgets. Ensure Child locks are in the place. Set monthly data usage limit for your child. Have a discussion with your child and inform them if you are installing some monitoring apps like Family Link. This will keep channels of communication open and build trust.
6. Discuss news and stories around excess internet usage, its ill effects and the real life stories of dealing with it. This will ensure that kids know the problem is real and they also know they can talk to you, in case of any untoward incident.
Keep discussing with your kids about right and Responsible usage of the Internet. Prompt them to live their social life and provide them with opportunities for outdoor games and interactions. Build a loving relationship between you and your kid by these measures.
Raise digitally responsible kids!