Raising children in the digital era is not an easy task. You would say that it was a tough job even during our grandmotherâ€™s time. However, things were easy back then, in a way that at least she did not have to know so much about technology to, one, be a part of her childâ€™s life and, two, protect them from being victims of online tricksters. Todayâ€™s Moms have to deal with the first fully digital generation and therefore have a big responsibility on their shoulders. If you too have kids and were worried about their â€˜onlineâ€™ life and lifestyle, you could find this article handy.
Before we talk about what should be done in order to ensure that your kids are â€˜online safeâ€™, let us first identify the problem areas that need to be addressed by you as a parent. In addition, let us also find out if we, as a modern Mom, are equipped enough to face a situation wherein we have to step in to our kidâ€™s life more as a friend than as a parent.
Major queries that we regularly have in our minds are:
- Â Are our kids active on the social networking sites?
- Â Who are their friends and what backgrounds do they (the friends) belong to?
- Are our kids aware of the privacy settings on social networking sites? Do they adhere to them?
- What kind of online games are our kids interested in? Are they playing the right ones or ones that are not very suitable to their age/taste/ social-cultural backgrounds?
- How to be a part of our kidâ€™s online/digital life without being â€˜nagging/ pushyâ€™ parents?
- Â How much is involvement is enough and how much is too much?
I am sure most mothers have these or similar thoughts crossing their minds on more occasions than one. Although it is difficult to deduce the correct and exact answers to all the above queries, following some handy tips and ideas will nevertheless definitely help. It is not about being around all the time to ensure the childâ€™s online safety, it is more about educating them and instilling in them the right values so that they are on their guard at all times.
Let us now discuss about how we can address our fears and ensure that our kids are protected.
Do not try to keep your children away from social networking sites
There is no use doing that because sooner or later they will find a way out and with/without your knowledge, they will have an active online life. The best way to address this concern is to introduce these sites to your children yourself so that they know about it from the best source that is you. Before you go on to educate them, learn the tricks of the trade yourself. Knowing about them yourself will enable you to set limits for your children and highlight the good points. Knowledge on these sites will also help you to understand the merits and demerits that they may have and accordingly inform your children before they learn it the hard way round.
Privacy and security issues should be openly discussed
Take a note of the privacy settings of the websites your kid visits and of the social networking sites so that you can explain them to your kid. It is always a good idea to be aware of the security measures yourself so that you can educate your kid on the same. Tell your kids the difference between private and public sites.
Engage yourself in your kidâ€™s online activities
Rather than waking up one day to realize that it is already too late, try to engage yourself in your kidâ€™s online activities. The sooner you begin the process, the better. Make your kid take you through his/ her choice of websites, online games/ networking sites, and the communities/forums that he/she may be a member of. This will help you to understand your childâ€™s taste and also make you understand whether or not there is any reason for you to worry. If you donâ€™t wish to be â€˜right thereâ€™ in your childâ€™s online life, no problem. Be there in the background so that you are aware of all their moves and activities. In this way you will be participating and not spying.
Be reasonable but firm while you set limits
Kids, especially the teenagers, may find it ridiculous to be told how much online time they should spend. Therefore, you as a mom will have to find out innovative ways of putting across the words. Try to introduce other activities in your kidâ€™s life, apart from the digital world. Appreciate of hobbies or leisure activity that your kid may be interested in. Encouraging them in household chores or assigning tasks that could be educating and entertaining should do the trick here.
Be active in parenting and not supervising
The last and final way to ensure that you have done a great job of social media parenting is to be an active parent rather than a supervisor. If you are yourself engrossed in commenting on your friendâ€™s photos on facebook all night, you would not expect your child to log off in just half an hourâ€¦ would you? Therefore practice principles yourself before you want your child to follow them. Rather than being a strict parent and supervising all your kidâ€™s activities, be a parent and a friend so that you cement that â€˜trustâ€™ factor all the more.
Although you cannot do away with the generation gap between you and your children, you can definitely lessen it. After all, to bring up the digital generation kids, you need to be a digital mom first.