Keeping up with your young ones in the digital 21st Century can prove to be a challenge, but here’s how you can be a parent ready for the digital age.
A new age and a new childhood.
Our children’s childhoods are a world of a difference from the childhood we had. For starters, we didn’t have debates about whether Androids or Apples were better. We didn’t have Instagram to share our photos – we just printed them out and showed them to our friends when they came over to our house!
Today however, their childhood revolves an awful lot around the latest TikTok trends, phone games, and endless hours of YouTube. While we understand that the change in generations warrants the use of technology today, sometimes it’s admittedly difficult to come to terms with the amount of screen time our children are receiving. In fact it’s also not uncommon to find parents in conflict with their child about an acceptable duration of screen time. How much is good enough and how much is too much? Are we being too lenient or too strict with our children’s screen time? These are all but normal questions to ask ourselves as parents of digital natives.
The one thing all parents can definitely agree on is that we want our children to have an amazing childhood. We want them to grow up and look back on these times with fondness. So when we notice them spending their childhoods staring at a tiny screen, we get a little uneasy. Instead of spending hours on screen time, we’d prefer them to go outdoors to run and jump, socialise with other kids at the playground, or spend some quality time together with us painting, playing board games, etc.
You see, our uneasiness doesn’t really stem from the screens themselves, but rather their behaviour and relationship they have with the screens. The screens aren’t inherently bad, it’s how they use them that’s concerning.
It’s the 21st Century, and we’ve got to equip ourselves with the necessary knowledge and know-hows to keep up with our 21st-Century children. Information about raising digital natives are aplenty, but here are 3 of the most important steps you need to know of to keep with your digitally-wired kiddos:
1. You have to want to listen to your children
It may be just a silly little dance video on TikTok to us, but to our kids, it could mean more than that; it could mean bonding with their friends, relieving them of their stress, or just a little fun for them to cut loose and have a laugh. Spark a conversation with your child about their views and to negotiate with them about how they’d like their screen time to be managed – ask them how long they’d prefer to spend on screens, why they think that amount of time is suitable, and how they’d spend the rest of their time off screens.
We want to help manage our children’s screen time and not just dictate how long they can and cannot spend on the screens. Therefore, it’s important to create a two-way conversation that accommodates what you and your child think is an optimal duration of screen time.
2. Talk about what’s right on the web
There’s a whole bounty of content on the web out there nowadays, and as parents, it’s normal to be concerned about the type of content our children may be consuming. The content that our children consume can sometimes directly impact their mental states. This is why it’s important to have a chat with your child about the difference between useful, enriching content and useless, inappropriate content.
Let them know you come from a place of concern and you want them to enjoy themselves online. But you also want them to understand the impact of the content they’re consuming and be more mindful of it.
3. Let them know if you’re installing a parental control app
If you choose to download a parental control app to know more about your child’s screen time, let them know. Be transparent about why you’re installing this app on your child’s phone – it’s not because you don’t trust them or that you want to spy on them, it’s because you want to keep them safe. Gently tell them that you want to make sure they’re not using their devices for too long of a duration. End off by letting them know that you ultimately trust them to learn how to interact responsibly online and use their devices independently.
Parental control apps like plano can run in the background of your child’s phones seamlessly and help to teach your child good device habits. The app will remind your child to take a device break every 30 minutes, and you can even assign specific times when your child isn’t allowed to use his/her device.