Building Your Digital Parenting Skills

Previous generations never had the concern of today’s devices that our youth are engaging in from a very young age.

A new study finds that children as young as six years old are receiving their first cell phones.

 

From toddlers using iPads to some tweens being allowed on social media sites that clearly have age restrictions starting at thirteen – we are living in a society that parents need to make choices that may not be popular for their child, however as a parent, we must remember, safety is always the priority.

 

What hasn’t changed from years earlier is that with right parenting skills, parents still can influence their children and that children still look to their parents as their role models. However, now it is true not only offline, but also online.

 

While you are monitoring your child online, please keep in mind they are also watching your social behavior online too. Many parents forget that the Internet is public and can be viewed by everyone, including their own children. If you talk to your kids about not gossiping online about personal family issues, mind your own keystrokes and think twice before posting photos that might be embarrassing to them. Your kids will mimic your behavior.

Offline parenting is key to your child making better online choices.

Apps and social media sites will come and go, if it’s not YikYak, it’s Burnbook. Then we see Ask.fm, Secret or Whisper and we haven’t addressed Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, YouTube or Facebook. These are all a variety of digital-playgrounds our youth now participate on.

 

What parents need to understand is that this is technology that humans use. Our children are human and will have choices and decisions. It is our job to empower and equip our children to be able to make good choices when faced with questionable situations online.

 

Let’s not wait for a headline or a national tragedy to have a discussion. The tech talk is not quite like the sex talk. The tech talk is a daily conversation about your child’s cyber-life. It’s one that you should have frequently and should be as common as asking your child how their day was at school. The fact is kids today spend the majority of their day connected (digitally speaking) to some type of gadget, which leads them to a social media platform (playground) they engage in.

 

Children need to know they can come to you if they are harassed online, if they have bumped into a site they find disturbing or problematic, if they believe they are being scammed or if they feel someone might be a predator. Kids are the key target for online criminals, especially when it pertains to identity theft. Talk to your kids about never giving out their passwords or other personal information.

 

Years ago the mantra used to be, just say no to drugs. Today, in addition to keeping our kids drug-free, we have to keep our dialogue open when it comes to technology.

 

Having daily chats allows your child to understand you are available and open to listening and understanding digital life as a digital parent. You may not be as cyber-savvy as them, but you are more than willing to learn. Always encourage them to teach you what you don’t know – this boosts their self-esteem and can create a closer bond with your child. Kids love teaching adults!

 

So, everyone is on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Snapchat – why can’t I? – Say students under 13 years old.

 

How many parents have caved to this peer pressure?

 

Many.

 

It is not about the app or site, it is about the terms of service they have put into place. The terms of services clearly state you must be 13 years old to sign up.

 

What message do you send to your children when you allow them to illegally sign up? Are they above the law?

 

Okay, so chances are, like their classmates, they won’t get caught – but what you need to understand your child might be ready for these sites, but the fact is, these sites may not be ready for them and that is why they have these terms of service in place.

 

Tumblr put it best.

3. Use of the Services

Eligibility:
No individual under the age of thirteen (13) may use the Services, provide any personal information to Tumblr, or otherwise submit personal information through the Services (including, for example, a name, address, telephone number, or email address). You may only use the Services if you can form a binding contract with Tumblr and are not legally prohibited from using the Services.

You have to be at least 13 years old to use Tumblr. We’re serious: it’s a hard rule, based on U.S. federal and state legislation. “But I’m, like, 12.9 years old!” you plead. Nope, sorry. If you’re younger than 13, don’t use Tumblr. Ask your parents for a Playstation 4, or try books.

 

Still not convinced?

 

You’ve decided to allow your tween or younger to join?

 

Why do you have to have your daily conversations about digital life? Statistics from National Crime Prevention Council show that only 11% of teens talk to parents about online abuse. This is an extremely low number and reiterates why you must start your dialogue much earlier, especially if you allow your child on these playgrounds against the terms of service.

What are some reasons kids don’t talk to their parents about cyberbullying or online abuse?

• Fear of having their lifeline removed. Kids don’t want parents to panic and take away their devices.
• Afraid the bully will retaliate, pressured to remain silent.
• Feeling embarrassed, ashamed or humiliated. Blaming themselves.
• Assume parents or adults won’t believe them.
• Believe they deserve it.

 

These are some of the thoughts that can go through young people’s minds, however with your daily chats about online life, you can address every single one of them on different occasions. Letting your child know you are always there for them and you will never judge them.

 

Safety is always your first priority offline – and it continues now — online.

 

Written by Sue Scheff

Sue Scheff is an author and a Parent Advocate. She founded Parents’ Universal Resource Experts, Inc in 2001. Her expertise is educating parents that are struggling with their out-of-control teenager and Internet safety for both kids and adults. In her book, Wit’s End! Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen, (Health Communications, Inc), Sue Scheff journals her own difficulties with her teen, as well as offers prescriptive advice for parents at their wit’s end.

Sue Scheff is a contributor for the Huffington Post, Parenting Today’s Kids, Education.com, School Family, GalTime, A Platform for Good, and others. She has been featured on ABC 20/20, CNN, Fox News, Anderson Cooper, Nightly News with Katie Couric, The Rachael Ray Show, Dr. Phil, and many more. Scheff has also been in USA Today, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, AARP, Miami Herald just to name a few.

Find out more at on Suescheff.com. Also on Facebook and Twitter

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