Children these days don’t remember the days where personal computers didn’t exist, dial-up internet took forever to connect, and cell phones were the size of your forearm. That’s because things have changed so much. And that’s why the way we parent has to change, as well.
The technology of today isn’t going away, it’s only accelerating, evolving and improving so we as mothers have to do the same in order to keep up not only with our world, but with our children.
Here are nine things that will help you to keep up with your kids online:
1. Don’t be afraid
It’s understandable that we, as parents with our protective nature, have fears about our kids being online However we can do things that prevent predators from getting to our children, and more importantly, our children from engaging with them.
First and foremost, parental controls go only so far. We have to explain to our kids when they’re young to teenagers that there are people online who do not have the best intentions. Just like we tell them not to talk with strangers in person, it’s important to let them know that it’s not ok to “chat” with strangers online either.
When you come from a place of trust and confidence, your children will see that this is important for their safety.
2. Embrace technology – they do
Our schools not only include computer classes that incorporate the internet, but they introduce these classes early.
My four year old is in preschool and they not only have two computers, they have a Wii console. My seven year old got her first Webkinz when she was five years old and now has regular computer classes, at school, that teach her math and even foreign languages.
That which we resist will only persist. This is true for technology. If it is a part of your life, lead the way for your children to navigate safely online.
3. Become interested
When it comes to technology, you can either be a family that eats in front of the TV every night, becoming a slave to every ding of the phone, and have children who can’t have a conversation with their parents… ever…
Or you can be a family who still loves to connect… with each other. You see, sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube don’t do anything for bringing your family together and the reasons why your children may flock to these sites when they get older are to connect. So it’s important to start early at curbing this for feeding their emotional needs.
One of the best ways to do this is to become interested in them early. Put your technology and work aside and have an eye-to-eye conversation with your children. Give them enough time to talk about their day in full.
In fact, my children light up when I watch them play some of their games online or even play Webkinz with them. We also play Youtube and have dance parties in our living room. Technology can be a bonding experience as long as you use it this way.
4. Let them play games
When I was young, we used to put things together with Legos. Not the kind that had a manual and made the millennium falcon, but the kind that would allow our minds to create anything we wanted.
The new creative outlet for our children kills fewer trees and allows them to correct their errors with a single keystroke. While you can definitely strike a balance between having your child play with their toys and work their cognitive skills, they also get a lot of benefit from playing games online.
5. Don’t limit the time they spend online or with technology – increase the quality of time you spend with them
When you focus on spending more quality time with your children, their emotional needs will be filled quicker. They will not feel the need to find love and connection online with strangers.
Have some old fashioned fun like a family game night. Turn off the TV, cell phones, and computer once in a while. Don’t make a huge deal about it, but make it evident that the reason you want to do this is to enjoy your children more.
When they realize you are truly interested in them, and not in technology, they will appreciate you. Their emotional love tank will be fuller and they will be less likely to spend so much time online.
My four year old would love to read Magic Tree House books rather than watching SpongeBob Square Pants. My seven year old would much rather dance with her silly mommy rather than playing Math games online. It’s never too late to demonstrate through actions how much you love your children.
6. Learn their language
Texting, status updates, tweets… this is the language of your children online. Get to know how they speak. It will go far in learning how to speak to them.
LOL this is what you have to learn
7. Lead by example – turn it off
Your kids want to connect with you. So turn it off. All of it. Daily. For them. For you. Have quiet time where people, ads, companies are not trying to vie for your attention.
Do yoga. Turn off the TV. Turn off the internet. Turn off the phone. When you fill up your own love tank and can connect with your essence, you can be the best for your children and family.
Sometimes keeping up with our children comes down to working harder on ourselves than we do on trying to control others.
8. Teach them early to be safe online
Whether they’re young and they’re playing in Webkinz or they’re older and they’re AOL chatting or on Facebook with their friends during their down time, you want to teach them to be careful of meeting unknown people trying to connect online.
It comes down to not having conversations with people they don’t know. Knowing the truth. Not always stressing this, but letting them know it’s important to be safe online and off. It’s about them connecting with their gut and following their intuition.
When they know they are loved and safe at home, they won’t feel a need to fill those needs online.
9. Have an open door policy
Two way communications is critical when being a parent. Having an open door policy when it comes to anything your children encounter online is important. They need to feel safe being able to ask questions. And they will do that if you have an open door policy about everything.
By keeping these principles in mind, you will be able to keep up with your kids and their technology in the twenty first century. Parenting principles have not changed with the technology of these days. It’s not about pushing against technology or pushing your kids away from it, it’s about embracing it for the good that it brings.
Ultimately, technology shouldn’t substitute for good parenting or personal connection with your children. Before you know it, they will be flying-the-nest, so value the time you have with them.
TAFN (aka: That’s All For Now)!
Mia DeBolt is a vibrant entrepreneur, empowered mother, devoted wife, bold business owner, and life-long chocolate lover. She founded Easy As Pie SEO in 2009 and now helps small business owners from around the world get more traffic and sales through search engine optimization.