By Zunammie Keren
The world can be a scary place and when you become a parent you quickly find even more reasons to worry. When you add the potential dangers in the online / technology world like hackers and game addiction, to the potential dangers in everyday life it can be easy to drive yourself crazy with worry.
I am one of those mothers who tends to worry about every little thing and with three kids I really had to take a step back and look at what I could do to be a better parent in this technological age. It was either that or risk losing my sanity. I learnt how to become a better ‘digital parent’ and here are a few tips that have helped me to keep my sanity. Hopefully they will be able to help you too.
It may seem obvious but it is so important that it needs to be stated outright – we need to listen to our children more and really try to hear them. When I say listen I don’t mean just when they are actually talking to you. What kinds of things are your kids into? What are they talking about with their friends?
Listening closely to your kids (without breaking any privacy barriers of course) will help you to get to know them better, build stronger bonds with them and allow you to clearly see what kind of impact technology is having on their lives. This kind of awareness will then out you in a better position to address any issues that may arise. If you don’t know what a ‘snap’ is or what ‘IG’ means then you need to start paying attention and listen more to your kids.
If you don’t have a clue about some of the technologies that your kids are using maybe its time you think about learning more about them. Don’t panic, I’m not suggesting that you learn how to play Minecraft overnight, I am just saying that, at the very least, if your child is into Minecraft you should know what the game is about and how it is played.
Pokemon Go is a trending game that kids (and adults too!) are currently going crazy over. Is important to learn more about the technologies that our kids are using, as this Pokemon game, for example, encourages players to physically go to places where they can virtually collect Pokemon and other associated items from the game.
The game has been released for less than a month (July 2016) and already there has been at least one fatality reported that has connections to it. Does your kid play Pokemon Go? Is it on their phone? Learning about and keeping up with changes in technology can definitely help you to be a better digital parent.
We also need to talk more with our kids. This is perhaps the best way to share information with them. Talk to them about any concerns you may have about their use of technology in any of its various forms. When you talk to them try to explain why you are concerned rather than tell them what not to do – we all know how well kids respond to that approach, so try something more effective.
You can also ask your kids questions when you talk to them. If there is anything that you have been wondering about just ask instead of drawing conclusions for yourself. Open the lines of communication with your kids, this is a critical part of being a good digital parent and it is true for parents in general as well.
As it turns out being a good digital parent isn’t very hard. All that is really required is for you to become a little more consciously aware of what your kids are doing. My tips can basically be summed up in one word – communication. As with most important relationships, when it comes to balancing technology with being a good parent, communication is the key.
Taken from the August issue of Geek Parenting, out now!