From Our Team
My daughter asks “Dad, what time is dinner?” “In about half an hour, I respond.” This sounds like a common home exchange. One major difference is that today I’m using my smart phone to respond to my daughter’s question even though she is in the next room. As parents it is hard to make decisions on how much access to technology children should have. While we may fear the unknown online world, we must overcome and educate ourselves to maintain a healthful connection with our kids. School groups, band and athletic programs, even the National Honor Society all have connections through social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Social networking and e-communication are not going to disappear anytime soon. Like any tool, we must understand the benefits of use and how to prevent abuse. So how do we keep our kids safe but still allow them to develop technology savvy? The American Academy of Pediatrics, Stay Safe online.org and others provide some recommendations including the following:
Educate each other: Kids can teach you what is trending with their friends and in their school environment. Work together to choose and understand the use of each online application and to set up the appropriate amount of privacy protections. Create a profile for yourself and connect as a ‘friend’ to be a part your child’s online life. To keep this window open, you may need to agree not to post responses on their page.
Be a role model: Show your kids that technology can be a fun and useful tool but there are limits. If you are on the cell or computer constantly or at inappropriate times like in the bathroom or while driving, your kids will be more likely to model this behavior.
Maintain tech free time: Insist on technology free family times such as during meals, when visiting family and just before bedtime.
Mold healthy digital friendships: Promote positive communication and discourage hurtful language, gossiping and posting untrue or disturbing information or photos. Remind kids that electronic posts don’t allow for body language, facial expressions and tone which can cause unintended perceptions. Share your own social media experiences with your kids. This may help them open up about their experiences. Monitor online time: Keep your computer centrally located in your home and check smart phones, tablets, or gaming system communications regularly. Remind your child that true online privacy does not exist – emails, texts, photos and instant messages can easily be copied and pasted elsewhere making it almost impossible to take back. Talk with other parents: How much online access you give your children is a personal parenting decision. It can be helpful to know what challenges other parents are facing and what online rules work for parents of your child’s friends.
According to a recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than half of adolescents visit a social media site more than once a day and 75% have cell phones likely used for texting and instant messaging. As children explore social media, meet this challenge with patience understanding and informed guidance. Set limits but be realistic about how the environment is changing. Use this opportunity to stay connected with your kids. By the way, please share this article with friends and family via twitter #pdnhfoundation and like us on Facebook/pdnhfoundation.
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