Do you find yourself to be technology constrained vis à vis your kids? Do you feel tempted to spy on your Kids’ devices? What do you think is better – To Monitor or To Mentor?
Do you often find yourself asking these questions – out of anxiety or fear – because you feel that you are raising your child in a culture which is much more materialistic, more sexualized, more violent than ever before? But were these not the same questions our parents had in their minds, when we were kids? At that time they might have been comparing their childhood with ours.
It’s a cycle – our kids would be doing this for their kids.
The main question is how to smartly handle situations which are pertinent today and not compare the two different eras.
I am no parenting expert. Like you, I have learnt it “on the job” and would like to share with you my experiences and some tips to handle the situations. But please remember these are just guidelines. Each child is unique and who better knows your child than you!
How to Handle the Digital world
Today we are all living in world that is driven by digital technology, almost everything is going “e” way. Practically everything is now connected to each other through digital technology.
Few tips to handle Tech Savvy kids in this digital age:
#1 To Mentor is better than to Monitor:
As it goes more deeper and is more effective. The kids must be more tech savvy, but as parents you have more wisdom. Communicate with them and try to understand their need to have a mobile or laptop. This could be for entertainment, information, socialization or needing personal space. Explain to them (age appropriately) why you are keeping a tab on their digital space. How much filtering you do at home, what happens when they use it in the outside world, so it is better to explain to them all the pros and cons in a healthy discussion, not scaring them.
#2 Have a set of Rules:
Explain as there are laws and orders everywhere which have to be followed by each member of the society, similarly your home has certain guidelines which every household member will have to abide by. This explanation can be helpful, when your kids emotionally try to convince you, “all friends using it, why can’t I?”. Tell them every country or society has different rules.
#3 Model the behavior that you expect:
Remember the rules in the society are same for everyone. Make sure you use your gadgets too in the slotted time (unless it is for work), and explain it to kids. Dinner time, or a small walk pre or post dinner (or any comfortable time as per your family time table) should be a complete no gadget zone. Have a focused conversation with a positive eye contact.
#4 Explore and Share Together:
With the rules and tools in place, don’t forget to just go online with your kids. Play games, watch videos, share photos and generally hang out with your children online. Learn from them and have fun. Share your favorite sites and download their apps. See the world through their eyes. And let them know your values and beliefs as you guide them on their way.
#5 Train them on Digital Etiquette:
Both parents working, tuitions & extra curricular activities and on top of that peer pressure, has made mobile an integral part of our lifestyle, especially if you are living in metro cities. But before you give your kids their personal devices, make sure they know how to answer the phone, the correct salutations, the politeness in tone and make sure they know the rule for texting. Remember you are the single most powerful resource to help your kids get the best of digital world.
#6 It’s ok if you are not an app expert:
Get your child to show you all the apps they want to use, ask them to demonstrate, and ask how their friends are using it. Then research about these apps, talk to other parents, read reviews, try using it yourself. Then explain pros and cons of the app before giving a thumbs up. Keep mentoring and give explanations for monitoring.
#7 Involve School:
Check out with teachers, school counselors, and computer teachers to know about the new technologies.
#8 Plugged & Unplugged time:
Make it a rule to have plugged & unplugged time slots for all digital devices, A smart phone in hand while doing homework is a complete no-no. Break study hours up into plugged & unplugged time for better output. Discuss the disadvantages of over indulgence, like if school works suffer, it will lead to drop in grades, which can further lead to self comparisons, negativity, mood swings and depression.
#9 Reward & Punishment (Encouragement & Deterrent):
Encourage your kids with pep talks, more fun times together, a little extra digital usage time (or anything your child is fond of – just remember it should not become the only encouragement factor), whenever rules are followed. Also use deterrents like no device for a day or two (again it is situation based), if rules are not followed.
Remember Eventually the children are going to make their own choices. With an open and positive communication, we as parents can be those little voices in their heads, which tells them respond and not react and ensure them of our presence – every time they need us.
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