When my husband and I were still family planning, we talked about which school to send our kids to, what neighborhood was ideal for their upbringing, etc. But what we only thought of discussing when our eldest child was already a year old was technology.
Here are a few techniques we tried to teach our young family members how to use technology smartly.
Limit Screen Time
The first thing we made sure to do was to limit the number of hours that the kids could spend in front of gadgets. We saw how they could not pull their children away from the iPad or smartphone through friends and family. If they tried, the little ones would throw a fit or the electronic device—whichever they thought of first.
When our kids were still not studying, they could only watch kids’ shows on TV for an hour in the morning. Once they entered pre-school, the screen time was reserved at school. The first time they got to use the computer was when they learned how to use one in second grade.
Did the children get upset about limited screen time? No. They couldn’t be upset with something they had known all their life. That’s the benefit of doing so before even giving them unlimited access to gadget just to make them stop whining.
Keep Them From Using Social Media Early
There’s a little controversy surrounding the fact that some parents made social media accounts for their kids. To be specific, my sister created a Facebook profile for her five-year-old daughter and uploaded her photos and some text posts as if she could do it all. When I asked why, my sister said that everyone’s kids had it anyway.
The problem I saw in this logic was that it could expose the children to social media earlier than necessary. Parents might let them use the accounts as soon as they learned how to type and post anything instead of teaching them what they can and cannot put online. One of the kids at my eldest daughter’s school had the same experience and unfortunately ended up posing provocatively in her images at ten years old.
The only quick fix that my husband and I could think of was to keep our little ones from using social media until they were ready. That would most likely be in the middle of their teenage years when they already had an idea about their real identity and won’t need to rely on others’ opinions to feel happy.
Inform Them About Cyberbullying And Why It’s Unacceptable
My son came home from school one day, looking upset. When I hugged him, he said that his best friend transferred to another school because he was getting cyberbullied. The said kid had been handling an Instagram account of his own since turning eight years old, and others started trolling his social media posts, to the extent that he could not take it anymore. Then, my son asked me, “What is cyberbullying, Mom?”
Considering my boy was old enough to understand the concept, I told him that cyberbullying was a form of bullying that ill-meaning folks did to harass or make fun of someone. I also mentioned that it’s unacceptable because it could make the latter too sad to function.
I knew that we raised our son well when he wiped his tears and said, “I promise never to bully anyone in any way, Mom.”
Block Adult Websites For Good Measure
I visited my kids’ friends’ houses over the years, and many of them had a desktop computer in the middle of the living room. It did not add to the space’s aesthetic appeal most of the time, but the parents said that it allowed them to monitor the websites that their children were opening. One of the older moms even said, “I made the mistake of giving my eldest child a laptop on his eighth birthday a few years ago. When I was getting his laundry, I found it open and saw that he was watching porn. Oh, the horror!”
Well, this method might work for some people. However, you were a kid once—you knew how sneaky a curious one could be. The moment you turn your back for at least five minutes, they could have open a website that they shouldn’t have known the name of in the first place. Hence, you must block adult sites for good measure.
If my husband was not as level-headed as he was, I might be among those parents who handed over my smartphone to my kids when they started having a meltdown. But with patience and compromise, we managed to discipline our children while teaching them the proper way of using technology.
Hopefully, the kids will not bonk their heads along the way and forget what we have taught them.