I am an unapologetic webaholic.Make no mistake about it. I am so excited to teach my daughter how the internet works, how to code, set up a domain and hosting and build her own website. Making sure her web literacy is top notch is a huge priority. She is still too young to really use internet technology with any competence, but her curiosity is suddenly growing. She’s developed an interest in toddler gaming apps like CBeebies Playtime Island. Every time she uses the iPad, she becomes better at using it. The famous philosopher, Uncle Ben Parker from Spiderman, once said:
“With great power comes great responsibility”Could there be any truer words could be spoken about teaching the next generation to use the internet and it’s associated technology safely? It is our parental duty to set good examples and educate. My own personal goal is to be ready whenever these conversations come up. It’s going to be an on-going and ever-changing process but there are 4 main habits I’ve already started keeping.
1. Take the mystery out of technologyThat doesn’t mean that you have to provide them complex explanations of the inner workings of your MacBook. This just means making sure technology is a part of your every day conversation. Encourage their natural inquisitiveness and make it fun. Talk about what your own online activity with them. This will also help you consider your own tech habits. Nothing makes mindlless scrolling through Facebook seem so ridiculous as when you try to explain why to a 4 year-old! Mess around with silly filters, use some age-appropriate apps with supervision and involve each family member in each other’s technology use from an early age. That doesn’t necessarily mean posting endless selfies with your toddler, it just means that it’s never too young to begin educating your child about having a healthy relationship with technology.
2. “Social media is like water. Teach us to swim or we will drown.”Kids are bound to make mistakes online, it’s part of the learning process and we all do it from time to time. WabiSabi Learning recommends giving children a grace period of 24 hours to come and tell you without fear of consequence. Who hasn’t learned some of their best lessons in life from a mistake they’ve made? This is a great opportunity to not only teach your child how to avoid making the same mistake again, but also foster trust and grow your relationship.
3. Be the apprenticeNo one is more enthusiastic than a child who is dying to tell you about something that they know. Let them impart their wisdom and you will likely learn a thing or two as well. Kids always know far more than we give them credit for. Is your 6 year-old addicted to a certain app? Perhaps you’ve got one of those children who would happily watch those Kinder-Egg videos for 3 hours? Ask them questions about why they like it so much and how it works. Getting them to actually explain will help develop critical thinking and help grow their independence without you needing to provide them long explanations that they are only half-listening to anyway.
4.Involve them in Decision-MakingThat doesn’t mean they help you decide which Netflix series to secretly binge on, it means getting them involved in how you use technology as a family. There’s no right or wrong here, it is what works for your individual family. We have a ‘No phones at meal times’ policy. No scrolling, no checking emails. We do occasionally break this rule to take photos or if it’s absolutely necessary to be easily reachable. But most days we eat our meals giving full attention to what we are eating and each other. Help them decide what the penalties are for rule breaking. And make sure you don’t get caught breaking the rules – this discipline is good for everyone!
How do you teach responsible technology use in your family?Featured Image Credit: John Holcroft Illustrator
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