It’s finally Summer for most! If you’re like our family, your days go one of two ways. They are either packed with all kinds of things to do, places to go and people to see, and you’re in a hurry. Or, there are those days with absolutely no plans, and the kids really get time to be creative and invent fun things to occupy their time. As parents in the 21st century, we are faced with questions of online security, screen time, overstimulation, and how much technology is good or bad for our little ones? “Everything in moderation,” my mum always used to say! So, what’s a mom to do?
TALK TO YOUR KIDS! Communication, as in all things, is a great asset and relationship builder. Set forth your expectations, whatever that looks like in your house. Kids should understand that technology, social media, and screen time as a whole is a privilege. Here are some things to consider…
Violence & Adult Content: Limit access to adult sites and violence, don’t stop there! Talk to your kids about why adult content or violence is not beneficial content for their little minds. That way, if they’re at a friends house or they get into something that they aren’t comfortable with, they can identify it and turn it off or come get you. This understanding gives your kiddos the power to make positive decisions!
Online Presence: THIS IS HUGE!! Talk to your kids about what they are putting online and how that can effect them. I see so much of what I call “word vomit” when it comes to social media these days, and it’s not just kids but parents too. If your words are not kind, positive or at least constructive, should you really be typing them? Default to “If I don’t have anything nice to say, does it need to be said?” Also inform them about how permanent the things they post can be. Information is stored and can almost always be retrieved, not to mention if someone gets an image of what you’ve posted.
Disconnect: There are so many wonderful benefits from totally disconnecting, at least for a time. Maybe that’s dinner time every evening, family game hour or every Sunday. Whatever that is for your family, make it a rule and stick to it. Boredom actually builds creative skills, especially in little ones! It’s so fun watching my kids go from bored to playing ship on our ottoman and being chased by sharks. Haha!
Consumers: When your kids are online, they are being targeted as consumers. Your children should know, that while they are online different sales tactics and techniques are being used to distract them with content that may interest them. Pop-ups, advertisements, age targeting images etc show up along the margins to make them want things! Inform them that the internet is a business and the clicks you make stimulate targeted advertising.
All in all, open up the lines of communications with your kids and set healthy limits. You want your kids to come to you, to talk to you, and learn more from their experiences. Remember to take time away from our devises, live in the present and watch your kids learn. It’s ok to be bored every now and then! The thing we, as parents, miss when we are looking down at our phones, are the looks of affirmation or denial from our cute kids if their actions are appropriate. “Everything in moderation!” Most importantly, have a fun and safe summer!
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