For most parents, being a great role model is hugely important. From displaying healthy eating habits to deescalating arguments, parents are usually incredibly conscious about how the ways they act affect their children’s development.
But how much time have you spent thinking about how you use technology?
Our kids are watching us all the time. The average American spends well over 10 hours a day on screen time alone. Children notice how often we use technology, and also what we do with it. How can you be sure you’re using technology in a thoughtful, healthy way that your children can look up to?
Here are a few things every great technology role model does.
1. Have “the talk” (the technology talk!) with your kids.
Not too long ago, the birds and the bees were the biggest thing parents had to worry about. In today’s digital climate, the sooner parents start talking to their children about the role of technology in their life, the better. Just like the original “talk,” your technology talk shouldn’t be a one-off lecture. It should be an ongoing conversation between you and your children starting when they’re very young about healthy technology habits. Topics to cover include anything from limits on screen time to offensive language to spotting cyberbullying. Keep it light, keep it open, and keep it age appropriate.
2. Teach children how to retain their privacy online.
When kids are young, they don’t fully grasp the endless bounds of the internet. It can be hard for them to understand why privacy matters and why anyone would be interested in their information. Talk to your kids often about online privacy and what it means in your family. Do you not share photos of each other on social media? Do you have a family rule about chat rooms? Maybe your kids are only allowed to give a website a credit card number with a parent’s permission? Privacy takes a lot of forms online and the sooner your children understand how to take control over their personal online privacy, the better.
3. Set limits…and be sure to follow them yourself.
Technology has become such an integral part of our lives, it’s hard to unplug. This is particularly true for kids who find themselves stimulated by technology at school, on the bus, and any time their smartphone’s in hand (which is to say, always.) Setting family limits around technology isn’t just smart, it’s a necessity. Talk with your kids about how much screen time is acceptable and why it’s not good to become too dependent on tech. Also provide them with alternatives for those times they’re not connected. Remember that at the end of the day, your kids are observing the way you interact with technology yourself. Keep that in mind the next time you start scrolling Netflix instead of talking to your spouse about her day.
Technology is here to stay. It’s our role to teach kids how to effectively use technology to better themselves and the world, but also how to use it responsibly. We’re the only technological role models our children have ever had, so we have to be mindful of how we use that power.
Smoothwall is committed to a safer internet for kids. We work with schools all across the globe to implement security solutions that keep inappropriate content out and allow educational content in. Read more about how we’re changing the technology of web filtering.
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