What are the best practical tips for parenting in the digital era?
Remember the olden days when we had one dedicated room where the only PC in the house used to be and how you had to wait your turn to access the Internet?
For better or for worse, these days are now long gone. The digital era is in full swing, and it brings its particular challenges to all the aspects of our lives, including parenthood. Here are some tips and tricks that will help you face the trials and tribulations of being a parent in modern times.
Be a good role model
This is a pretty challenging thing to do, so let’s get it sorted out right away. Kids pay way more attention to things we do than the things we say. This means that you are the one who has to limit the amount of time spent in front of different devices before you try limiting your child’s screen time.
Doing so might prove to be more complicated than it seems, but try to be more present for your kids and talk to them and play with them instead of leaving them to stare at various pieces of tech.
Screen time doesn’t have to be spent alone
Even if your kid is looking at a screen, that doesn’t mean you have to leave them alone.
Instead, try to turn this into another bonding opportunity. See what your child likes watching, what are subjects and matters that interest them.
Use the things you have seen together to talk about that topic further. Research it together as a team. And, listen carefully to the comments and observations your kid makes. It’s guaranteed that you’re going to be pleasantly surprised by the level of maturity your kids demonstrate and how eloquent they are when talking about something that matters to them.
Set clear boundaries
Kids need boundaries and rules. The structure is fundamental in their lives. This rule applies to screen time as much as it does to any other aspect of childhood.
Set clear limitations on the type of media kids should consume and the amount of time they should devote to it every day and stick to those boundaries. Your kids will respect you more if you stick to your guns.
Seek help when you need it
Parenting is simultaneously more rewarding and more complicated than anyone could ever explain to you. An additional difficulty comes from the fact that every child is unique and demands different things from you as their parent or guardian.
Different strategies, different approaches, and different rewards work on different kids. This makes it harder just to ask your friends and family for help and guidance.
Fortunately, there are people out there that can help you cope with these challenges, no matter if you are a parent who’s returning to work or a parent of the stay at home variant.
Treat the Internet the same as you would real life
The same parenting guidelines apply in both real and virtual environments. Know your children’s friends, both online and off. Know what platforms, software, and apps your children are using, what sites they are visiting on the web, and what they are doing online.
Warn them about the dangers of revealing personal information and contacting strangers. Teach them to apply the same common sense as they would in real life.
Create tech-free areas
To encourage face-to-face communication, make sure that no one is staring at their phone or tablet during family meals. Keep other family and social gatherings and children’s bedrooms screen-free.
Instead, teach your kids that the devices should be charged overnight. Doing so will help regulate their bedtime and have a positive impact on their sleeping habits in general.
Let your teens socialize online
Most of the advice listed above is aimed at dealing with kids that are a bit younger. However, things change quite a bit when you are dealing with teenagers.
These days, socializing online has become more important than talking in person. Your teenagers most likely have friends thousands of miles away that they met online, and that is OK.
Let your kids have online friends, but let them know that everything they do, post or say online can be saved forever. Teens are on the verge of entering the real world and creating their own digital footprint that will follow them for the rest of their lives, and that can be tricky.
Parenting in the digital age comes with its own set of challenges. As long as you are willing to set a good example and set clear limits, you should be fine.
It is important to respect each kid’s individual wants, needs, and passions, both online and offline. If it becomes too much for you to handle on your own, don’t hesitate to seek help. Being a parent is sometimes scary and sometimes exhausting. But, in the end, it’s all worth it.
Rebecca is a translator and an avid traveler, a book worm, and horror flick enthusiast. My job has given me the amazing opportunity to travel to dozens of countries around the world, and writing on Rough Draft gives me a chance to try to showcase some of them.