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Challenges of parenting in the digital age

Mr Tim Cook, CEO of Apple – is not the only one expressing hardly about how kids are being raised in an era of smartphones, social media, and connectivity.

Before him, Steve Jobs even had a striker screen time rule. His article expressing how his kids grew without Ipads have been circulated thousands of times.

The man who created the devices our kids love so much stated: “we limit how much technology our kids use at home”. (New York Times, 2010) 

Nine years on, the challenges of raising kids in the digital age, is getting even harder. That’s because parents are still trying to understand the effect of technology even in their own lives.

Parents of my generation are called the oversharer parents. Before our babies are born we have posted things about them either on Facebook groups or Instagram.

We are the generation that may at times even fall/share fake news and always trying to reply to Whatsapp messages instantly.

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The challenges digital parents of my generation face :

 

Many of us realize the good of technology, of course. But right now as being new to the digital world, we are still figuring out how to curb the negatives while exploiting the advantages of tech so our kids can be responsible digital citizens.

That’s a summary of the challenge faced around this new era called digital parenting.

Screen time is one of the most obvious problems. Despite all the research suggesting us to stop worrying about screen time, we still cannot stop thinking about this.

Many times we do not understand the research being conducted and we still struggle with our own device use.

 

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The lack of understanding is a barrier that we face. We may face bullying in our own childhood, but we do not necessarily know how to support our kids when they are being cyberbullied.

Many mums tell me that when their child is being cyberbullied they just tell them to get off social media and close their account.

But mums do not understand that even though the account is closed the bullying does not stop there.

For those of us who grew up without the Internet, it is difficult to understand how a few clicks can give access to negative content of every kind- whether it is our kids searching for it or been exposed to it by their friends or when just innocently browsing.

Many of us are now realizing that we need to limit our own social media use. Also, ensuring that our children are not suffering from mental health issues because of the obsession with ‘likes’ and perfectly ‘filtered’ Instagram influencers.

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In summary – we are still learning and making our own mistakes along the way. At the same time teaching our little ones and hoping they can learn through our mistakes.

The risks we face while we are still learning

Children’s online safety book- teach them about internet safety from a young age. For 3 -10 years old

Children’s Commissioner for England reported that social media is “cliff edge” for children in secondary school- that’s age 11.

Children are changing school at the age which means that many would get their first smartphone around that time. This is because they may start traveling alone to school and may be out with friends more regularly.

Often handing them a smartphone goes unregulated by parents and they can easily access social media. Despite the minimum age being 13 years old to have a social media account.

The report goes on to suggest that 8-10s use social media in a fun, creative way-mainly to play games- this changes as they have more friends in year 7. Many children find it hard to manage social media and become dependent on ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ for social validation.

They may even change offline lifestyle to fit an online image.

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In 2017, OFCOM found that :

  • By the time the child is aged nine, 12% of children already have a social media account.
  • This number rises to 28% by the age of 10 and 46% by the age of 11.
  • 51% at age 12
  • 72% at age 13

Guiding Kids How to Have a Positive Relationship with Technology

Many parents of my generation, also known as digital immigrants are trying to teach our kids positive online habits when they are still young. But we are also still guessing it.

Speaking to mums regularly, I can see two approaches to digital parenting :

  1. The tough approach: Strict time limit, ban social media, blocking the internet.
  2. The subtle approach: raising children who’ll make the correct decision even when encountering wrong things online, rather than relying on internet bans. 

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Often, it is not a choice between the first or second one. You can mix the two approaches. But its the second option that can feel terrifying.

Banning the internet can be an easy way out but it’s not a solution. It doesn’t solve the problem of preparing children for a digital future or even worst for that “cliff edge” time when they are older.

Raising a child who can deal with the challenges of the internet is a big task for parents of my age.

Right now, we are still learning from different online articles, school conversations and using our own intuition. Many times we panic about some news we read online and make the wrong decision of informing our kids about it.

That is the reason I started Kids N Clicks. To share about latest online parenting news and trends that our kids are encountering.

From understanding screen-time research, writing online safety books for kids (which I am willing to give for free)  picking educational online activities,  to developing healthy internet use at home.

I did not create this as an expert. I am a mum who is curious about how much I need to learn about the online world. Come learn with me. 

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Here are tips to you keep children safe in the digital age : 

Tips for Non-Tech Savy Mums :4 tips to digital parenting for non-tech savy mums

Stop kids from being datafied : Are your children datafied from birth

3 dangerous places for children to be online : 3 places kids should have limited internet access

Finally don’t forget click below:  

Children’s online safety book- teach them about internet safety from a young age. For 3 -10 years old

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