Children In The Digital EnvironmentJul 25, 2022
The digital age has provided children with remarkable resources to fuel their imaginations, deepen their learning, innovate, and connect to the world around them. However, digital technology and access to the internet can have its downsides for children of all ages too.
As with all aspects of a child’s life, it’s crucial for parents to help children access and navigate the technology at their fingertips responsibly. Children of the digital age require guidance on using social media safely and responsibly, to develop a healthy balance with the screens and devices in their lives, as well as an understanding of how the morals and values that they are taught about everyday life translate into the digital world.
Check out my digital parenting courses for even more age-specific resources to help you and your family navigate the digital world.
Concerns for children in the digital age
Despite the many benefits children can gain from accessing technology, there are drawbacks too. Appropriate use of digital devices will differ depending on the age and developmental stage of your child.
For babies and toddlers, their interaction with the digital world is solely dependent on the adults and caregivers around them.
In fact, there are limited benefits for a child’s physical, psychological, and social development from screen time at this age. Therefore, parents are discouraged from allowing infants to engage with any significant amount of time with digital activities.
Because young children learn so much about the world from their primary caregivers, particularly at this young age, parents should be mindful of their own screen time and use of devices in front of babies and toddlers.
Face-to-face activities and real-world-play should be prioritised for children in the 0-3 age group. Indeed, the WHO suggest that physical activities should clearly outweigh sedentary activities until the age of 5.
Remember, if you are posting images and videos of your children, you are establishing their first digital footprint. Be mindful of this and share these responsibly.
My 0-3 course has even more resources to help you understand how to be a responsible digital parent of a baby or toddler.
From the age of four, children may already be exploring the digital world via apps and videos. It’s important to remember that whether your child is streaming content or watching the television, both count towards their total daily screen time.
Children in this age bracket may be very comfortable navigating their way around digital devices, but they have yet to develop an awareness of how to do so safely and appropriately. Parents should be very much involved with and guiding a child’s use of technology at this age.
At this developmental stage, children will usually start appreciating games, reading and math apps and sharing technologies with other children on playdates. They may also begin to play games, watch tutorials, and videoconference with family members.
Technology that encourages children to play more complex games, to begin reading and writing, to listen to stories, songs and rhymes, or to develop listening and speaking skills can be educational, as well as entertaining. Parents and caregivers should set clear boundaries for time spent online and continue to promote play and discovery that involves real-life and shared interactions.
My 4-8 course has even more resources to help you understand how to be a responsible digital parent to young children.
Children aged 9-12 are in the stage of pre-adolescence where they’re beginning to develop a sense of independence. It’s likely that children of this age will also begin to use technology to aid their school assignments, making it increasingly difficult for parents to keep track of their screen time and device use. However, schools may not always provide guidance on the use of those devices, so attention and interest from parents is even more necessary.
It may also be tempting for kids this age to join social media sites, which generally have age restrictions at 13—for good reason. Companies are allowed to advertise to children 13 and above and children’s data may be used for marketing purposes. It’s important to teach children from a young age to be critical of any requests to provide their information through the internet
Parents and caregivers of children aged 9-12 should recognise that this is the time to setup and reinforce healthy habits and critical thinking; they should continue to observe their children’s activities and accompany the mon digital devices to know when to step in for support.
My 9-12 course has even more resources to help you understand how to be a responsible digital parent to children and tweens.
Ages 13- 18
While your child is continuing to develop their autonomy from 13 onwards, many of the risks posed by using digital devices remain relevant for teenagers too.
Teens have access to many opportunities online, and online exploration and experimenting can help them build necessary skills in using digital technologies— as well as develop other capacities like critical thinking.
Teenagers may begin to turn to social media as a means of expression and for their own social connections. While there may be many benefits to seeking support and connection online, it can also bring along external social pressure—not to mention the risk of cyber-bullying.
Parenting a teen in the digital age may be the biggest digital parenting challenge of all. There are more benefits for teenagers to reap from digital media, but they’re also increasingly faced with potentially harmful content and activities, such as grooming, sexting, hook-up apps, pornography and more.
First and foremost, parents and caregivers of teenagers need to maintain a positive and trustful relationship with their children. By remaining attentive to their teens’ online lives(as much as they allow), parents and caregivers will be able to understand how teens use technology, provide guidance when things happen (as they inevitably will) and help teens maintain a healthy relationship with the technologies surrounding them.
My 13-18 course has even more resources to help you understand how to be a responsible digital parent to teenagers.
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