The internet and technology are phenomena that hit the world like a storm that doesn’t know what dwindling is. Businesses have moved from office desks in skyscrapers to laptops in our bedrooms.
Social gatherings have stopped happening in outdoor spaces and have become more enjoyable on our mobile screens. Now, with all these exciting but risky trends, here are ten ways to grow responsible tech users out of your children.
Start By Being Their Role Model
Children learn more from what you do than what you try to tell them. They can tell when their dad or mommy is a helpless social media addict or an internet junkie, and they will think that it’s a great thing.
You can’t be the opposite of what you want them to be and still hope to succeed in shaping their behavior. Responsible tech mentorship begins by being a role model to your children.
Stay away from the screens when they are unnecessary, and get used to putting those gadgets down when it’s time to do more important things.
Be Their Very First Technology Teacher
Suppose your children will learn how to interact with tech from their friends, the nanny, or other random strangers.
In that case, you can almost be sure that they will not want to listen to your boring lectures on how social media is addictive and risky or how they can meet dangerous people on the internet.
You should be the first person who teaches them how social media works, how far and wide the internet is and how to use it productively.
Most importantly, they could be young and probably smarter, but you should always be two or three steps ahead of them by being tech-savvy.
Talk About Internet Safety and Online Privacy
Children should learn from a young age the dangers of irresponsible internet usage and unethical handling of personal data. Again, the criminal aspects of internet usage and the implications of technology misuse are inevitable.
While you might not have the technical knowledge, you can teach them about impersonation, identity theft, phishing, spamming, and hacking.
Your kids should know that not every social media account belongs to the person in the profile, and not every email is safe to open. Also, show them the difference between a secure website and one that is not.
Introduce Them to Both Sides of the Coin
Don’t be the fairytale storyteller who always wants to tell beautiful stories about technology. On the other hand, don’t be the critic who always sings about how bad the tech world is and how it can potentially bring danger.
Be honest enough to let your child know that the internet has its downsides, such as addiction, obscene content, and uncontrolled access for people with unknown intentions. However, it is also a resourceful sea of wisdom and knowledge.
For instance, show them how to verify social media identities and contact information using Nuwber, or how to make good use of Wikipedia.
Allow Them to Explore Their Interests and Talents
Despite being used by most of the world’s population as a place for fun and interaction, the internet is a huge cash cow, and your child could be a future record-maker for a successful online business.
Don’t allow skepticism and paranoia to let you limit your kid’s potential. Let them learn the basics of how the internet works and link them with the right mentors if they develop an interest in IT. You might discover a potential tech guru in them.
Limit Screen Time and Maximize On It
Your child should be free from addiction to technology while learning how to use it productively at the same time. You can only help them achieve this by spending less time behind the screen and using it for formidable interactions and quality learning.
For instance, advise them to set daily time limits for social media or weekly online learning goals and help them work through them. Remember, since technology is here to stay, the goal is to help them live a balanced life.
Let Them “Teach” You What They Know
Your child will feel proud of themselves if they can give you a lesson or two about technology. Never deny them that chance. If they take the lead in working through a process or explaining a concept, don’t always take over.
They will be motivated to learn more and share their knowledge with you if they can occasionally see an active student in you. That way, you can easily find out what they learned in your absence, and you’ll find intelligent ways of correcting where they go wrong.
Always Use Parental Controls for Young Children
Most smart devices today have ways of restricting child access. Your child could look or pretend to be naive, but there’s no telling what they could do with unrestricted internet access.
It takes only one lucky attempt, and there’ll be so many secrets that you’ll probably never know about. However, don’t use parental controls to micromanage or spy on your kids.
Tell them why they are important and show them how they work. If you want genuineness, you must be willing to provide it first.
Decide When They Can Own a Device
You might be tempted to buy your child a smart device just because you’re tired of sharing yours or simply because you can afford it. Don’t make that mistake.
The decision to get them a mobile device should be inspired by close monitoring and evaluation, and it should be very deliberate.
Make sure you’re giving access to someone who actually knows how to make good use of it. Otherwise, you’ll be risking irreversible abuse and misuse.
Respect Their Privacy and Train Them to Respect Others
While it’s tempting to snoop into what they do, it’s important to respect your child’s private space. If you trusted them with it, don’t give it halfway. That way, they’ll effectively learn how to let others enjoy theirs and be more genuine.
The past few decades have seen a major transformation in how we communicate, transact and interact. With the inevitability of the evolving digital world, the least we can do is prepare our children for it, lest it destroys them.