Digital Parenting Strategies and ChecklistJul 27, 2022
Being a responsible digital guardian means respecting children’s rights online and empowering them to use digital devices and access the digital environment in a safe and healthy way.
Nurturing children to develop a responsible relationship with technology requires open conversations, the building of trusting relationships, and regularly offering kids “real-life” alternatives to digital activities.
Check out my digital parenting courses for even more age-specific resources to help you and your family navigate the digital world.
Positive digital parenting strategies
When developing a parenting strategy to help you and your family navigate the digital age, there are five essential components to consider:
- critical thinking
Communication is the cornerstone of positive digital parenting. You can use the “WWW” approach (developed by The Parent Zone) to help you start a conversation with your child about their use of technology
As parents and caregivers, you could ask your children:
- “Who are you talking to online (classmates, friends in town/ abroad, strangers)?”
- “What are you doing online?”
- “Where are you going online (type of websites, platforms, etc.)?”
- “When are you going online (for how long and at what time of the day)?”
These simple questions can help to start a more in-depth discussion with your child about their online behavior.
One of the easiest ways to keep up communication with your child is to make small adjustments to your existing routines. In addition to asking your child “How was your day today?”, you could ask “How was your online day today?” The basic goal, of course, is to invite your child to open up about and share their experiences and activities online, rather than to appear as interrogating them.
Critical thinking is the ability to analyze and reflect upon what to do—before acting— and it’s an invaluable skill for parents and children alike. Parents can use this deeper reflection to decide whether their family needs that new device, game, app, robot or technology.
Once parents decide affirmatively to purchase anew technology, they can use critical thinking to establish how the device can be incorporated safely and responsibly into family life. Seeking ways to maximize privacy and data protection settings, as well as defining when and for how long digital technologies may be used, is also an important part of critical thinking for digital parents.
It's also important to come up with digital guidelines that work best for your family, and to communicate those to your children on are gular basis. In this way, parents and caregivers can lead by example when it comes to thinking critically around technology and devices and pass on this essential skill to their children.
Crucially, children should feel comfortable coming to speak to you when/if anything goes wrong, or even if they are just confused about something they have seen online. Critical thinking is an indispensable tool that your children can apply to many different situations throughout their lives, and it is also essential for healthy, responsible internet and technology use.
The concept of digital citizenship is an extension of what you as a parent or caregiver and your children’s schools are already doing: preparing children to become literate, informed and engaged citizens in the worlds around them. The digital component brings those same notions of citizenship to the online environment.
As parents and caregivers there are several ways you can support digital citizenship education for your children:
- by having regular, open communication with your children about the internet
- by helping your children understand and balance the social and interpersonal implication of using online technology
- by communicating regularly with their educators, to help develop their skills as involved and informed digital citizens.
Beginning conversations with your children about responsible use of digital devices is a great first step but keeping that channel of communication open is also essential—even if the subject matter becomes uncomfortable.
Continuity of support and dialogue can help children thrive online. Parents and family members who have regular, open conversations can learn about each other, and from each other. Your children should know that they can rely on you for support, listening, and for exchanging viewpoints and opinions.
Communities provide support to families by allowing parents and caregivers to interact and share their experiences. In family life, being able to turn to a family or community member may be helpful in resolving an issue. And with the evolving online world, a community that follows the trends and gathers collective knowledge may be vital in sharing pertinent and timely information with its members.
Communities of individuals connected for the purpose of improving children’s rights in the digital environment can provide resources to respond to a broad range of issues. You can find your community of support in your town or neighborhood, among parents of school mates, or even within online parenting communities. The only requirement is that whatever community you join, it should provide you with opportunities to connect on a regular basis, to reach for shared goals, and to share best practices.
Checklist for developing a positive digital parenting strategy
To develop your own digital parenting strategy to help you and your children stay safe online and make the most of the digital age, remember those five crucial tools:
- build trust and healthy communication
- think critically
- be an excellent digital role model and raise savvy digital citizens
- ensure continuity in your discussions and guidance around digital safety
- seek resources and support from trusted communities.
Check out the digital parenting courses which are split into age-specific pods to help parents and caregivers tackle the challenges that they may be facing when raising children in this digital age.
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