Parenting is so easy – said no one, ever. But, the advent of the internet has made it even harder. When we were kids, our parents had almost complete control on our environment, and by extension on, of what and who we came in contact with. Our play time was limited to a few friends from the neighborhood and the playground nearby. Fortunately or unfortunately, we came in contact with the internet when we were old enough to tell the good from the bad.
Fast forward to today, and you see a 3-year old playing on a tablet; a 5-year old can find a video they want to watch on the internet. This is good and bad. Internet is an essential tool in today’s world. As a parent, it is our duty to get our children acquainted with all the tools they need to be successful in life. However, there is no denying that there is a dark side to the internet. We cannot expose our kids to the internet unexpectedly and expect them to make the right decisions by themselves. We have to guide them through it. This brings us to the question – how exactly do you do that? For starters, here are some pointers for you to become a better parent in this new digital age.
Be there when they access the internet
It is the small things that count. Sit down with your kid when they are taking baby steps into the world of internet. This will not only help you spend some quality time with your child, but also enable you to supervise what your child is doing on the internet. An open channel of communication like this will help your kids clarify their doubts. Of course, you cannot be with them every single time they go online, but you can teach them how to be responsible on the internet.
Keep an eye on their social accounts
Social media is everywhere. If your kids are on the internet, they are bound to stumble across social media sooner than later. When that happens, they can be exposed to a lot of bad elements that exist on these sites. So be careful.
You should make sure that they seek your permission whenever they want to access their social media accounts. You can also keep control over them remotely by befriending them on these sites. But, until your child is old enough to make their own decisions, you should know all of their log in credentials to these sites. This is a non-negotiable.
Tech solutions for parents
There are many parental control software solutions available online. Install any one such software on each and every smart device your child has access to. You can then filter out the content that is not suitable to their pristine minds.
You should also let the child know that they are being monitored. More importantly, explain to them why you had to take such steps. Remember that it is important to trust your child, but it is more important to protect them from the dangers they are unaware of.
The Online Stranger Danger
Remember how your parents taught you to beware of the strangers, who might want to get chatty with you. This is the same thing. Only the context has changed. You should make them realize how the internet is full of predators. They should know that they are not supposed to accept any friendly advances online.
You have to put stress on how those unknown people may spell danger, and how you are the one who is trying to protect them. It is easier said than done. But, a small chat with your child can open a line of communication that will help your child come to you in case they are facing a problem out there in the online world.
Either you have ‘The Talk’ or the internet will teach them
Pornography and sex are not the easiest topics for parents to talk to their kids about. That being said, if your kids are active online, they may stumble upon inappropriate content at some point. When they do, it is important that they are mentally prepared for it. Parental controls will considerably reduce the probability of this happening, but it cannot eliminate it.
Eventually, the responsibility falls on you to share your views about such content with them. They may be as awkward as you are or may have a lot of questions for you. In either case, be patient and let them know that you are there to help them and protect them.
This is the age of the internet. So it is almost impossible to avoid it. The best way to keep your child safe is by being an approachable parent, who is there to listen and who has time to talk. If you are there when your child needs you during their developmental years, they won’t feel a void in their life that they need a stranger to fill.