10 Things To Teach Your Child Before Giving Them A Digital Device This Christmas

30 Nov

It’s that time of year again where our kids turn their attention to wish lists and presents under the tree. As visions of sugar plums dance in their heads, they are also dreaming of digital devices and gadgets a plenty. However, before we gift a digital device this holiday season, it is important to lay some groundwork to prevent the celebrations of today from turning into a frightening New Year tomorrow. Check out these 10 Things To Teach Your Child Before Giving Them A Digital Device.

10 Things To Teach Your Child Before Giving Them A Digital Device on Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad

After all, the rates of cyberbullying have tripled within the last few years, sexting is now perceived as a normal part of development, and there are about 500,000 predators lurking online in search of new victims. These statistics can be overwhelming for any parent to process, but we can take deep breathe, eat a Christmas cookie, and teach our kids basic safety precautions. By doing so we can greatly reduce the threats lurking behind the glow of a screen.

 

Listed below are 10 things we need to teach our sons and daughters before they unwrap that new smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, gaming console, or computer:

 

  1. Teach them social media etiquette. Everyday we teach our kids basic manners, but sometimes we overlook the digital side of things. We need to make sure they understand how oversharing, cruel comments, improper photos, and immature posts can be interpreted by others. A good rule of thumb is to only post photos or messages they are comfortable with grandma seeing.

 

  1. Begin an ongoing discussion about digital citizenship. We are raising digital natives, but just because they can navigate search engines or coding, doesn’t mean they understand how to behave online. Listen and discuss modern problems like cyberbullying, oversharing, identity theft, and more before they own a device.

 

  1. Show kids how to set their privacy settings. It sounds simple, but every website, gaming network, or social media platform will periodically change their privacy settings. Walk kids through the process of setting their privacy choices to be more secure.

 

  1. Encourage kids to tell a trusted adult if they encounter alarming behaviors online. It is estimated 70 percent of teens hide online activity from parents. This is frightening, especially when acts of bullying often stop within 10 seconds if someone intervenes. Cyberbullying cases have been linked to increased rates of depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide. If we can catch bullying early, we can prevent heartache later.

10 Things To Teach Your Child Before Giving Them A Digital Device on Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad

  1. Limit technology access in your home. Everything has a time and place. Technology is no exception. However, we need to create an environment that allows our sons and daughters time to unwind and get a break from the fast paced world of digital devices. We can do this by setting limits and keeping devices out of their bedrooms, implementing a “lights out” philosophy , limit the amount of time a child can use their technology during the day, or ban devices from family functions and dinners.

 

  1. Create a technology contract as a family. Take a few minutes and draw up an agreement that clearly states all expectations and consequences for using digital devices. This will get everyone in agreement about acceptable uses and prevent future disagreements.

 

  1. Have a conversation about social permanence. Children need to know how damaging photos or online behaviors can haunt them into adulthood. Make sure they understand how colleges, scholarships, future employers, and even their own offspring might view what they share today years down the road. If the material is offensive or in bad taste, they may be penalized or fail to get hired.

 

  1. Help them understand the power of words. We have all heard the adage that “the pen is mightier than the sword” and it is still true today. Words have power and they can leave scars or hurt emotions not seen by the naked eye. Teach children how to be polite, recognize cyberbullying, and avoid cruelty online.

 

  1. Don’t forget about sext education. The majority of today’s children and teens have little reservations about sending a racy selfie. Empower them with tips to stay safe or avoid sexting now, before they encounter a request or pressure from friends.

 

  1. Monitor a child’s online activity. Before allowing kids to go online, make sure you have access to their usernames, passwords, and the ability to check in on their digital presence. Be honest and upfront, making sure they know in the beginning you will be monitoring their behaviors. As they show maturity and good judgments, you can slowly back off your presence.

 

Will you be giving a digital device this holiday season?

Guest Post:Amy Williams

Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.  You can find Amy on Twitter,

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