Children today cannot imagine a world without WWW connectivity. And they crave authenticity because attention is the scarcity of our time. As a society, we are multitasking and distracted by mobile devices, responding to texts and posting and checking status updates around the clock. So the best way to deliver that authenticity is to embrace the technology while honoring your family values (such as safety and honesty), individual accountability and concern for the greater good of the family.
Below are five top 2012 tips for parenting digital natives:
1. Correct thinking about social media and texting: No such thing as “private“
Yasar Chaudhary is the President of AskComputerExperts.com in Sacramento. “Most people have a need to share,” Chaudhary said, “and the social media companies are set up to profit off of this human need. Unfortunately, the end user does not care and is not educated about privacy. Nothing is free. The price that you pay is giving up privacy.”
So Chaudhary advises parents to keep it simple:
- Be clear with children that what you do with social media is public; there is no such thing as private. Envision your mom or someone you want to impress seeing everything you post.
- Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other “free” social media is an adult area. Treat these applications like training your child to drive a car.
2. Ensure age-appropriate access to on-line apps and functions
Age-appropriate user levels are challenging to define because the dynamic convergence of technology shifts exposure from what was once considered “secure” to “breach”. For example, Netflix will be enabling social media functionality with the video service; iPods and iPads allow children to download free texting apps, which do not require a mobile phone account.
Direct children to on-line places that are secure and deliver age appropriate content. One such place is YourSphere, headquartered out of Davis, California. Mary Kay Hoal is a mom who founded YourSphere as an alternative to Facebook and other social media. “These applications cannot protect children,” Hoal said. “And the content is for adults. Facebook and companies like them are not able to offer the level of security, connectivity and entertainment appropriate for children because they were not designed with children in mind.”
3. Being in authentic relationship with children off line
Roseville Joint Union High School District Board member, Linda Park is a mother of two grown sons and a grandma. In her role at the district, she witnesses the struggle of so many children starved for attention, and who get into all kinds of trouble, including drug and sex trafficking.
Park emphasizes that while parents are strapped for time with the hectic lifestyles and challenging economic times, there still is no substitute for spending time with someone if you really want a relationship. “Parents need help,” Park said. “Kids know that we are too busy for them. Trust is built with time together,” Park said. She encourages parents to:
- Find a way to spend time with children, such as having dinner together on a regular basis.
- Choose a community project serving others to do as a family.
- Engage in games that are not electronic, such as Legos.
- Be prepared to listen when your child is ready to talk. It won’t be convenient, but it will be genuine.
And according to Park, some problems are so great that prayer is the best way to help parents feel empowered. “Find Scripture that inspires and empowers you as a parent. Knowing the truth is incredibly liberating,” Park said.”Knowing God is important for arriving at the best solutions for you and your family.”
- Parenting in the network
- Empowering parents
- Roseville Joint Union High School District
- YourSphere (social media for children)
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