In 2022, technology is around every corner. There are even such things as smart vacuums! But this article isn’t here to discuss Roombas—we’re more concentrated on the technology that your kids use every day and how you can help them be smart online.
Kids in a Digital Age
This age of technology is all that kids of today know—a life surrounded by cell phones, laptops, and other smart devices. There’s nothing wrong with the ongoing influx of technology, but it is important that kids know how to handle it responsibly.
Here are some ways you can help your child make responsible digital choices:
Don’t Cut Out Chores
Kids have done chores for generations—they’re seen as a rite of passage. Little kids love to help around the house, but the same can’t always be said for tweens and teens.
Even if they aren’t enthusiastic about them, chores teach kids important lessons about responsibility, helping others, and being good citizens, and these lessons will contribute to their values as they grow.
Don’t let chores fall to the wayside with the presence of technology.
Balance Screen Time
There are plenty of ways to balance screen time with other activities and life outside the device. You can enforce a rule that prohibits screen usage until chores are done, or you could also cut out devices during family time, meals, and outings.
And most importantly, lead by example. If you’re using your phone during family time, your kids won’t take the rule seriously.
Teach Responsible Online Behavior
For young kids, you can place the privacy settings at the level you find appropriate. But when your tween/teen has their own device, it’s not quite as easy. Instead, you can give them the tools that they need to practice responsible online behavior. Teach them the following:
- Never write personal information like age, name, address, school, in a public place/forum where others can see.
- Be polite to people (if you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it online).
- Tell an adult if they receive an email, message, or photo that is inappropriate, or if it’s from someone they don’t know.
Convey that Responsibility = Independence
As kids grow, they want more independence. The good news is that, as they get older, they’ll be presented with more opportunities to prove they’re ready for it.
If your child has been acting consistently responsible, reward them with bits of independence like staying home alone for a few hours, a later curfew, or walking/biking to school on their own.
Let Kids Know about Technology’s Benefits
It’s obvious that technology isn’t going anywhere. To encourage your kids to be responsible online, help them get comfortable with different aspects of technology, in all different forms. Show them that technology makes life convenient and safe and that there are many ways to use it responsibly.
You can use other pieces of technology as examples on how to operate tech responsibly. A great example of this is the “smart locks” that many people have on their doors. These let you know when people open and close the door, and you can liken this concept to that of being online. You can tell your child to never give the code away to anyone outside of the family, as everyone in the house wants to stay safe. The same can be said for information given online—the less about themselves that kids offer to people they don’t know, the safer they’ll be. The smart lock is an analogy that is straightforward and easy to understand for kids of all ages.
Responsible Kids Online
Some parents are intimidated by the idea of raising kids in a digital age, but we promise it doesn’t have to be a daunting or scary task. As long as you set clear limits when it comes to technology and reward your child’s acts of responsibility, you’ll be able to trust your kids not only to balance their screen time with other aspects of life, but to act in responsible, polite, and smart ways online.