Parenting in the cyber world is a daunting prospect. Some of us have come late and somewhat reluctantly to social media, and cyber bullying, trolling and the like are another unanticipated worry of modern parenthood. However, there needs to be an ongoing conversation on how to parent in the cyberworld.
Educating parents to keep their children safe is the most effective safeguarding measure. We must understand and enter their world. A few years ago we might have been advised to restrict children’s use of telephones and computers, but that is no longer an option. It is not effective, and more importantly it is not teaching our children how to be safe online.
Children see life online as normal, so as our own knowledge increases, we can be more actively involved in their cyber life.
How to Parent in the Cyberworld
Some tips to navigate the world of parenting in the cyber age
- Take an interest: speak to your children about what they are doing.
- Parental controls: They are useful for restricting your children’s access but we need to remain a step ahead. Remember that children will always test boundaries so do not rely on some control you have in place as the main control.
- Apps: Set rules about downloading and buying apps. Make it clear that children have to ask before they buy anything or try anything.
- Social media sites: recent research has revealed that one in four children aged between six and twelve have shared personal information with people they do not know. Did you know that Facebook is not the most popular social media choice for teenagers anymore? There are several new ones that pop up and as a parent you might not be able to keep up. It is more effective to tackle online behaviour the same way you would social behaviour. We should reinforce the idea that online behaviour is no different to how they should act in the playground or socially.
- Privacy: I don’t think children should have computers in their bedrooms period.
- Boundaries: talk to your children about this and explain consequences to them. What happens in cyber space is captured and stays online forever. Impulsive and uncontrolled behaviour may have lasting consequences beyond what they can imagine. A potential boss, or even relationship partner can pull up so much information online about them.
- Protection: Discuss what they should do if they feel unsafe or threatened, they should not respond to online bullying; or share information they would not be able to discuss with their parents. As parents we have a duty to create an atmosphere where they know what is right and wrong. The internet is a life tool and a way for children to manage their lives and parents have a duty to get involved and help them manage it.
There needs to be a change in parental attitudes. We need to be involved, to see both the attraction and pitfalls of the internet, and only then can we put into place effective boundaries and parameters.
The online world is incredible we must learn to embrace it, enjoy it, and as the children say, get with the programme! [Read: Hazards permissive Parenting]
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