In the technological world every child has the digital potential to become many different things online. As parents, we need to be awake to the fact that life today consists of both real life and virtual life. Whether your child is naughty or nice, trustworthy or a boundary pusher, a leader or a follower, becoming any of the below is entirely possible due to the power of connectivity and technology:
- Social activist
- Community builder
- Porn addict
- Porn star
- Programming whiz
- Video gaming star
- Couch potato
- Top scholar
- Terrorist recruit
- Thought leader
The list consists of both positive and negative outcomes based on how children use technology and the choices they make. What our children will become will be determined by factors such as:
- How we educate them about the digital world.
- Teach them to make positive choices online by presenting them with teachable moments they can relate to.
- How we stay connected to them both online and offline as their parents. (Tip: Eat dinner together at the table not in front of a screen. You will learn so much about each other and be able to pass on insights and advice.)
- How big their emotional void is. Whether we are able to spot the void or whether they are able to bring it to our attention before trying to fill it in dangerous ways online or offline.
- How secure their self-esteem is and whether they know they are valued and are adding value to the world.
- What agreements and consequences we have in place regarding the responsible use of technology.
- What family values we instill in our children so that they can measure other value offerings against them in the offline or online world.
- What filtering, monitoring and on-device safety software decisions we decide to implement, or not.
- How well we work together as a community to support our children in becoming ‘healthy switchers’. People who are able to enjoy their time online as much as they enjoy their life in the real world.
- Helping our children to learn how to make good choices for themselves and enriching their digital potential.
All the above is a team effort between parent, child and school. It requires knowledge, insight and commitment to keeping the human in the middle and encouraging responsible use of technology. We, as a society, have never been here before. The digital world is new turf and we are discovering how it works in new ways every day. We need to bring our children up to believe that people are more important than screens. They need to understand that the digital devices they use every day can be used either as a weapon or a tool. Their choice. And every choice has consequences.
Read Tech-Savvy Parenting for detailed age-appropriate advice and parenting strategies for bringing up children in a digital world.
Ages 7 – 18
If your child has a cellphone or if you are thinking of getting your child a cellphone, you need to create an agreement regarding its usage and details of the responsibilities for all parties concerned. Click here for your free download of my tween and teen cellphone contract.
Creative parenting expert, inspirational speaker and co-author of:
Tech-Savvy Parenting (Bookstorm, 2014)
Future-proof Your Child (Penguin, 2008)
and Easy Answers to Awkward Questions (Metz Press, 2009)