Parenting in the Digital Age
In these times when children are more and more accessed by media (especially social) parents need to be even more engaged in their children’s lives. Yes, technology is a very powerful and exceptionally useful tool, but simultaneously is a dangerous (on many levels) and distracting device for the youth of today and into the future. As parents you are urged to set boundaries and limitations with regard to all the screens that your child engages with during the course of their day.
Television: Ask yourself some key questions before accessing the remote control. What is my child being exposed to? Is this program within our family’s value system? Are the topics presented in a particular program at the developmental level of my child or are the themes for older children and/or adults? How much time do I want my child to be watching television?
Computers/Tablets: Make sure that have set strict boundaries with regard to the computer. Do you have firewalls set up in order to keep you children safe? How much screen time to you allocate per day? Are the activities being utilized engaging and challenging to the child’s mind? Have you had a conversation with your child about Internet safety? Do you know all the passwords? Can you see the “history” of the websites visited? These questions should all be answered before the child begins using these tools.
Cell phones: More and more parents are providing younger and younger children with these powerful tools. What precautions are you taking to insure that these tools are used wisely? Do you have all the passwords and logins? Are you aware that some apps that seem harmless are a gateway to applications that you may not want your child accessing? Do you set the internal timer so that these devices cannot be used outside of your parental parameters (such as from 9pm – 7am). Have you screened their list of contacts? These devices should not be treated as you would a private diary, but rather an open access point for you to see what is happening at all times.
We all can agree that technology is useful and unavoidable in this day and age, but for children the value of time spent with family and friends in meaningful conversation and physical activities must be a large part of the rearing of our children. We only have one chance at raising our children so we, as parents, must do the best job possible with that as we are not granted a “do-over” or an “auto correct”. You have certainly heard the phrase –set the rules before playing the game. This is true with technology—set the boundaries and guideline before engaging in an electronic device.
Teacher, St Jerome