7 Ways to Build Your Digital Parenting Skills

How to get involved in your child’s online world

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In today’s online world, kids are exposed to so many choices and experiences. For instance, teens and tweens can access inappropriate material on the Internet, face cyber bullying, deal with rumors and gossip on social media and make choices about what they are going to share online. As a result, if you want your child to be a good digital citizen, you are going to have to work on your digital parenting skills.

Be proactive. Learn about the digital media that your children are consuming. Monitor their access to the Internet and actively join the digital world where your child is growing up. A parent’s role is to prepare his child for the world and that world is a digital one. Be sure you not only have an understanding of what is available to them but that you are participating in the digital world too.

Make safety a priority. Parents need to understand that technology is not going away, and we cannot shield our kids from it forever. They are going to grow up and have choices and decisions to make. As a result, parents need to empower and equip their children to make good choices when faced with questionable situations online. The best way to do this is be sure you have established some guidelines for safely using technology. Be sure your kids know they can come to you when they are harassed online or if they have landed on a site that is disturbing.

Also, be sure your kids are aware of the risks of oversharing. Talk to them about never giving out personal information or passwords.

Allow them to practice. By all means, parents should adhere to the age restrictions and guidelines for social media and other online activities. However, once your children reach that age and are mature enough to handle the responsibilities, allow them to practice using various forms of social media.

They do not need an account with every provider but allow them the opportunity to practice with one or two social media accounts.

Doing so now, under your guidance and supervision, is much better than sending them into the world with no knowledge and experience on what constitutes good digital etiquette or the risks of oversharing. This is also a good time to give some reminders about selfies and the risk of cyber bullying. And it’s important to establish guidelines regarding the use of smartphones.

Follow but do not stalk. It is important for parents to be actively involved in their child’s online world including friending and following your child, but there also is such a thing as overdoing it.  Be sure you are engaged with your child online, but you should give him some space too. There is no need to like or comment on every status update, even if you do read them all. Instead of stalking your child and looking for problems, take the time to talk to your child about building a good online reputation before posts or comments are made.

Talk every day. Don’t wait for the next national headline about bullying and suicide to have a conversation with your kids about online safety. You need to be talking every day with your children about their online lives. In fact, these conversations need to be just a frequent as asking your child about his day at school. Keep in mind, most kids spend the majority of their day connected to some type of technology, even at school.

Ask for a lesson. One of the best ways to engage with your child’s online world is to encourage him to teach you the things you do not know. Ask him to show you how Instagram works or how to play a game on the Xbox. Having him teach you boosts your child’s self-esteem and can create a closer bond between the two of you. More importantly, you are learning some valuable information about the technology your kids are engaging in. Plus, you are sharing in their digital world.

Demonstrate other uses for technology. Kids often think that technology is only for social media, video games and surfing the Internet. Take the time to show your kids how technology can be used as a tool for growth and learning not just something that needs to be restricted in lieu of other activities.Discuss building his online presence in a way that will be attractive to colleges and later businesses. And encourage him to do things with technology that improves the world around him.

The key to healthy technology use is that your children learn that using technology and being online is not just for self-gratification by gaining large numbers of likes or having lots of online friends. It’s also a tool that can be used to grow, learn and shape the world.

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