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Parenting In The Digital Age: How To Be An Awesome Parent

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There’s no denying it. Parenting in the digital age can be extremely tough, no matter the age of your child. Technology is progressively becoming part of our everyday lives, and many children today are brought up in an environment surrounded by digital devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Keeping up to speed with the latest technologies is crucial if you want to be a successful parent.

In this article, we’re going to be discussing how you can be the best parent possible to your child in the digital age.

Contents

Parenting In The Digital Age: Trends Amongst Children

Knowing how has technology impacted parenting is extremely important. Although technology may provide huge advantages to our society, there are also massive negative impacts that can greatly affect your child.

Many studies have shown the negative impact of digital technologies of children. The overuse of computers from an early age can affect many areas of a child’s life, including academic success.

As studies suggest, the use of digital devices can cause poor concentration, disorganisation, underdeveloped language skills, and a severe lack of creativity.

Parenting in the age of digital technology can be difficult, as their children have much easier access to malicious content online.

Many children fall victim to the use of violent video games and graphic sexual content, which can seriously harm their mental and emotional development. To prevent and mitigate the negative effects of technology on their children, parents are consistently burdened with the task of monitoring their child’s behaviour and activity online and on digital devices.

Here are a few key tips on how to prevent the negative effects of smart devices from affecting your child.

How To Prevent The Negative Effects Of Technology On Your Child

Technology has transformed the way our kids interact with each other and the world. Although there are benefits to children using technology, such as the use of educational apps, the negative effects of using digital devices are unquestionable.

Information technology and parenting now go hand-in-hand, so you need to be aware of the measures that you can put in place to ensure your child’s safety and wellbeing when using digital devices.

Parenting In A Digital World Using Parental Control Apps

Many devices, including smartphones, have downloadable applications which can be installed to prevent your child from accessing potentially malicious content online.

Certain parenting technology applications, such as the «Find My Kids» app, will enable you to track your child’s activity on their smartphone or tablet. You’ll be able to view websites they’ve visited online, and applications they’ve used.

Other useful platforms to monitor and limit your child’s activity online include:

  • Qustodio — which covers most major devices, including iOS, Android, Kindle, Mac, and Windows.
  • Mobicip — available for iOS, Android, and Windows devices.
  • KidLogger — available for Mac OS, Windows, and Android devices.
  • StayFocused — a Google Chrome extension that limits time spent on specific websites, including social media networks.

Through the use of these applications, you’ll also be able to block specific websites, meaning your children won’t be able to access potentially malicious content.

You’ll also be able to limit the amount of time spent on websites, including social media platforms, that may distract them from what they’re meant to be using the device for.

Keeping Your Child Active

There’s no doubt that childhood obesity is becoming an epidemic in our modern-day society.

This childhood obesity crisis is brought on by a variety of factors, including dietary habits and inactivity. As technology has become more prevalent, children are less likely to seek entertainment by going outside and playing with friends, as they can play video games and interact with their peers online.

This can be an extremely sad state of affairs, as your child can grow to become unfit, and unable to develop key social skills.

To bypass the chance of your child becoming lazy through the use of smart devices, you should schedule in times each day that ensure your child is staying active.

Some ideas on keeping your kids active include:

  • Joining them up to after school clubs
  • Organising meetups so they can socialise with their friends
  • Getting them involved in sports
  • Take them to your local park
  • Take them swimming

As you kids take part in more activities on a regular basis, they’ll perceive said activities as their main source of entertainment, as opposed to constantly using digital devices.

Not only is regular activity great for your child’s physical health, but there are also huge benefits with regards to developing their social skills.

Building Your Relationship With Your Child

All too often, children can become quickly lost in cyberspace without realising the importance of family time.

If exposed to digital devices for too long, your child will become more detached from family overtime. This is why you must schedule in time to bond with your child on a regular basis.

This doesn’t have to be anything dramatic, just some time where you and your child can build your relationship, away from digital devices.

Some suggestions for bonding time activities include:

  • Making sure your family dine together most nights of the week
  • Taking your child on family trips out
  • Reading a book with your child
  • Cooking or baking

Its simple things like the activities suggested above that will help you to maintain and grow a healthy relationship with your child away from the distractions posed by digital devices.

The Pros & Cons Of Children Using Technology

There are many different pros and cons when it comes to your child using technology. Although technology, in some instances, can pose negative impacts on your child’s development, many benefits can come from using it.

Here are some of the pros of your child using technology:

1. Preparing Your Child For Their Future Career

Your kids and technology are only going to progress together. This means the likelihood of your child attaining a technological-based career is ever increasing.

Most industries today require their employees to have sufficient technical skills to perform well at their job. These skills include the use of many software programs, and knowing how to perform tasks online.

This is one advantage of exposing your child to technology at a young age as it will give them time to harness their tech skills. By the time they reach the age of employment, many children will have proficient skills using digital technologies.

This is mainly because they’ll have been brought up in environments which enabled them to harness advanced knowledge of many different software programs.

2. Educational Tools

Thanks to technology, many children now have convenient access to many different educational tools that help them to progress with their learning.

This is a huge positive, and one of the main reasons why you should encourage your child to use digital devices.

Many online education tools or downloadable applications help to improve your child’s experience of education by gamifying the whole experience. Your child will often receive in-app rewards for completing activities, which acts as a huge incentive.

Try downloading apps such as Monkey Word School Adventure, Todo Math, and Duolingo onto your kid’s smart device and encourage the use of them on a regular basis.

3. Improving Cognitive Function

Studies have shown how children who play videogames regularly have advanced cognitive skills compared with children who don’t play video games.

Research published suggests that video games that have specifically designed to improve cognition can be extremely beneficial. These games often labelled as brain-training games, have been shown to significantly boost cognitive performance,

4. Easier Access To Information

Although this can be seen as a negative, giving your children easier access to information can dramatically improve their speed on learning.

Children can be extremely curious about many things. Sometimes, it can feel like a task trying to keep up with all the questions they’re asking you.

Encouraging your child to use search engines and other online resources to learn about the world around them can be very beneficial.

Not only will this encourage your child to become more independent with their research, but will also enhance their capacity for learning.

Here are some of the cons of your child using technology:

1. Underdeveloped Social Skills

One of the unfortunate and all too common side effects of children using modern technology regularly is the lack of real-life interaction with others.

This leads to children growing up without forming the essential social skills that they’ll need for life. This can result in children finding it difficult to form friendships and relationships with others as they grow up and in later life.

2. Children Become Inactive

Constant use of technology can result in children becoming increasingly inactive, as they rely on digital devices for most areas in their life including socialising, entertainment, learning, etc.

Sedentary lifestyles are associated with many physical health issues, as children aren’t being active enough in the real-world — think childhood obesity.

3. Addiction To Technology

Often, children can become seriously addicted to using smart devices such as smartphones and tablets.

This can lead to further negative consequences, including unwanted behaviours upon the prohibition of such devices. Children could potentially form behavioural issues that may harm their development as a result of their addiction.

4. Safety Risks

There’s no denying that there’s a huge range of safety risks posed by the use of the Internet.

It has been proven that many children have seen malicious content online, including graphic pornography.

Many children are left unsupervised whilst using the Internet, thus they have free-reign to visit any website and potentially even get involved with bad actors online.

Tips on Parenting In The Digital Age

As you may have noted, being a parent in the digital age can be tough. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to abolish all forms of technology from your child’s life.

Here are a few tips on parenting in the digital age that will help improve day to day life for both you and your child.

Educate Your Kids On the Importance Of Real-Life Interaction

Digital devices and social networking apps are often viewed by children as supplements for real-life interaction. But, as we all know, this isn’t the case at all.

Although there are points to be made in terms of social media being beneficial for your child’s social life, you must instill in them how crucial real-life social interactions are for both physical and mental health.

Humans are known to be social creatures, with studies showing that humans who are more socially active tend to have a better lifespan. Your child must understand that no amount of digital technology can replace in-person social interactions.

Set Clear Boundaries

Setting key times when your children can use a technological device is also key when parenting in the digital age.

Some examples of timezones where the use of digital devices are prohibited include:

  • An hour before bedtime
  • Weeknights before their homework’s complete
  • Before school
  • When family and friends are visiting
  • During meal times

Setting these boundaries will help to reduce the negative effects associated with the overuse of smart devices.

Consider Age To Introduce Technology

It’s important to consider what age you choose to introduce digital devices to your child.

As studies show, the use of digital devices from an early age can show positive and negative effects, depending on the purpose of the device and how long it’s used for.

However, it’s recommended that children under 24 months old should not be exposed to smart devices as frequently as a more developed child.

You may want to consider limiting your child’s use of digital technologies until schooling age. Many children will be required to use technology during their education, so it makes sense to start introducing it to your child just before they begin full-time education.

Interact With Your Child Using Technology

Using technology doesn’t always have to be a solitary experience.

Set some time aside to interact with your child using digital devices such as computers, smartphones, and tablets.

There’s a huge range of applications that parents and children can both use, and can prove to be a beneficial bonding experience.

The next time your child is playing a game on their device, sit with them and get them to explain it to you. Then suggest finding games that you can both play together.

Tips On Positive Parenting

To know how to manage your child’s development during this digital age, it is important that you fully educate yourself on the benefits and risk factors of modern technology.

However, it’s also important to employ a range of positive, tech-free parenting practices to ensure that your child grows to be positive themselves.

Here are a few ways you can be a positive parent and help your child to grow up in a positive environment that will be hugely beneficial to their development.

Encouraging Independence

Encouraging your child to become an independent person will pay off huge dividends as they grow older.

There are a variety of ways you can do this, including encouraging your child to safely explore the digital world. This can start by granting you child the freedom to browse the web unmonitored, whilst educating them about the dangers of online use.

Communicate Openly

It is extremely important that foster an environment that encourages your child to speak openly about anything.

As discussed previously, when parenting in the digital age you must be aware of the risks posed by technology. If your child is experiencing anything negative whilst using their digital device, they need to know that they’re able to converse with you about the situation.

With the rise of social media, instances of grooming and cyberbullying are becoming far too common. This is why you must remind your child that they’re able to raise any issue that they feel uncomfortable with.

Positive Interaction

Make sure to positively interact with your child regularly. This will help encourage your child to have a positive mindset and learn to have fun.

This interaction can be with or without a digital device, but initiating these kinds of positive playful interaction away from technology will show the child that there’s more to life than a smart device.

Be The Student

Often, as a parent, you want to teach your child everything you know for them to successfully develop into adulthood.

However, sometimes it’s important to take time to let your kids teach you something new every day. Children are notoriously curious about a wide variety of topics. Find something they’re passionate about and take a huge interest in it.

Encouraging them to teach you something they know will gradually build their confidence, especially as they go through full-time education.

Again, this process can take place with the absence of a smart device. However, prompting your child to do further research on a topic they love using the internet will reinforce good online practices, and will encourage them to use a digital device as a learning tool.

Limits & Technology Milestone For Different Ages

It’s important to take into account the age of your child when introducing them to technological devices such as smartphones and tablets.

0 — 18 Months

You want to be progressive in your approach to giving you kids digital devices. Many recommend not exposing children to smart devices before they’re 18 months old. This makes sense, as your child is in the most crucial stages of development at that age, and you don’t want technology to disrupt their natural development.

Preschool

As your kids grow to become preschoolers, you may want to slowly incorporate technology into their daily routine. Whilst this doesn’t mean enabling them to have access to social media networks, you should encourage them to use their device for educational purposes only.

School Age

When your children are attending full-time education, they must have access to a digital device that will help facilitate their learning process.

It’s important to educate them on how they can use their devices and encourage safe practices to ensure they’re not exposed to malicious online content.

You may also want to consider giving your child devices such as a smartwatch that enables you to communicate with them, whilst being able to track their whereabouts.

Pre-Teens

Now your child has reached a certain level of maturity, they’ll most likely want more access to digital devices, such as tablets and smartphones. Smartphones would be appropriate at this age, as your child will have grown to learn how to properly and safely use these devices.

Smartphones will also enable your child to have access to social media. If your child is a pre-teen, you want to educate them on the risks of social media and instill into them to talk openly about their activity online.

Using the various tools listed previously in this article will help you to ensure your child is using their device safely.

The Bottom Line On Digital Parenting

Although technology can boast huge benefits for your child’s development, especially when it comes to accessing educational resources, there can also be huge risk factors.

Educating yourself before enabling your child to freely use technology is key. It’s also of huge importance to openly communicate and educate your child about technology — both the positive and the negative aspects.

It can be tough being a parent no matter the circumstance. Parenting in the digital age is especially difficult, as you’ll be tasked with monitoring your child’s online activity whilst preventing them having access to malicious content or suffering the negative consequences associated with the overuse of smart devices.

To stay on top of your child’s wellbeing, use some of the tips in this article, and try to use the right tools for you to monitor your child’s activity whilst using a digital device to ensure they grow up using technology safely and beneficially.

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