Keeping Up With Our Digital Children: Behind the Screens

Parenting in all generations has had its’ challenges, however in today’s digital society it has created a new world of parenting concerns—in addition to offline parenting. It’s back to school, and our children’s digital devices and online access is only going to increase in the coming days.  How do we keep up?  It is all about what happens behind the screens and offline parenting that is important.

It’s a fact, having
“the talk”
 doesn’t only mean about the birds and the bees anymore.  Before any child is handed a keypad of any kind, parents should discuss; digital citizenship, cyber-safety, how to report online abuse and above all your child needs to know that having any type of tech gadget is a privilegenot a right.  If they abuse this privilege, there will be consequences. Having a family Internet safety contract in place is recommended.

Be very clear on your consequences and always follow through.  It is important that your child know that as a parent you will be monitoring them.  This way there are no surprises, it isn’t about not trusting them, it is about their safety and well-being.

Monitoring verses snooping

Your child’s safety is a priority. Monitoring is parenting. When safety trumps privacy, snooping is your last resort.

As I mentioned in an earlier article, many teens don’t tell their parents they are being bullied online for a variety of reasons. This can cause for emotional scarring that is unnecessary if addressed early.

You may notice behavioral changes such as:

  • Secretive and withdrawn
  • Change in appetite
  • Changing friends
  • Failing, underachieving in school
  • Sadness and signs of depression

Keeping up with the latest digital trends

Kids and teens are usually ahead of their parents when it comes to apps and tech trends.  An open dialogue with your kids is better than spying and snooping.  This starts early with a genuine interest in their digital lives.

The truth is monitoring systems and parental controls are only useful to an extent. This is why it is imperative that your child is taught digital awareness offline so that when they are faced with difficult situations online they are better equipped to handle them. This is not to discourage parents from having monitoring programs in place, but you have to face the reality that especially teens are cyber-savvy and will find ways to escape monitoring systems. This is why it is so important they have cyber- skills to make good choices when you are not arounddigitally.