Good Digital Parenting
Blog | Oct. 8, 2013

The Kids Are Watching More Than Screens

Founder, Parents' Universal Resource Experts, Inc

When treating kids to new technology, don’t be tricked into thinking your job ends once their device is powered-on. Teaching responsible technology use has become an essential part of modern parenting – kids learn about digital interaction from their parents. And, love it or hate it, we all need to embrace it. What’s more, we need to set positive examples for our increasingly connected children.

Our kids are watching more than screens, they are watching us too. But, are you sending the right message?

Treating Social Media with Respect

Do you post with care or use social media as a scrapbook? I have seen parents using vulgar words, even profanity, and posting pictures that would make their kids blush.

We constantly preach to our children about the risks of over-sharing personal information yet adults themselves are making their personal lives very public online. Whether it is about a new love interest or a recent divorce, some parents are treating social media like a scrapbook.

Just remember, what you share is as important as how you share it. Be a model for your children and only post things you’d be comfortable with them seeing.

Knowing When to Click Out

Do you know when it is time to click out? Let’s say you’re watching a heated debate unravel on Twitter or Facebook that you have strong feelings about. What do you do? There’s nothing wrong with responding – teaching our children activism and engagement is important too – but pay attention to how you choose to respond.

Ask yourself if you would be okay with your boss, elderly parents, or young children seeing what you have to say. And, if you’re really heated and have nothing nice to say, just click out. Your kids will learn that compromise and levelheadedness are valuable qualities, a lesson that may keep them out of a tricky situation down the road.

Friending Other Role Models

Who are your virtual friends? Teens are into the social-climb, counting the number of friends they have listed and who they are. And, they may look to you as a model for the types of people it’s okay to associate with online.

Do you know all the people on your friend list? Knowing who is who, and how they post, will help you avoid embarrassment with your children. And, if you don’t know who they are or can’t trust their choices, do what you would tell your children to do – un-friend, un-follow, etc.

Turning-Off or Powering-Down

When was the last time you actually turned off your cell phone? Are you talking or texting during dinner or other family time?

Just as monkey see, monkey do. Your children will take cues from you about when it’s appropriate to be plugged in. If you don’t want them to be connected 24-hours a day, you can’t be either.

All kids today have the treat of technology and all parents today have the privilege of being their technology and social media role model. Take the time to learn about the different devices and social networking sites your kids are on, chat with them about them. The more interested you are the more engaged they will become. Take the time to examine your own online habits and ask yourself if they are ones you’d be okay with your children replicating.

Don’t be tricked. The Internet is not going away and you play an important role in the type of relationship your child develops with technology. The more you learn about managing your digital presence and being responsible and safe online, the better role model you’ll be.

Image courtesy of Flickr.