Each generation faces new challenges in parenting and, coincidentally, many times these challenges have to do with technology developments, such as cars, television, computers, etc.
While we celebrate each of these innovations upon their arrival, there comes a time as a parent that you realize parameters have to be set for your child’s safety and health. And, of course, there is the question of whether the child is ready to handle the responsibility that comes with this new item/service/toy.
Parenting is much different today than it was for our own parents. While similarities exist, today we are dealing with situations that were virtually unheard of just two decades ago: Cyber bullying? Online predators? Sexting?
For many of us, the rapid evolution of the Social Media Age was unexpected. Nevertheless, the future has arrived and while our kids have accepted it as the norm, many of us parents have had a harder time figuring out the digital opportunities and risks. Welcome to what is called the “cyber-generation gap.”
There are actions that we as parents can take to bridge this gap and better protect our children while allowing them to explore all that cyber space has to offer, including social media networks. The most important step is to become familiar and engaged with those sites that your child is asking to join. This will allow you to understand the positive aspects of the site, the risks that your child might encounter and how to discuss them with your child.
Next, develop a set of Internet rules for your family that state what your child can and can’t do online. Some things you might include in the rules are time limits, only visiting sites that are age appropriate, no sharing of private information and being respectful while communicating online. Include these rules in a family contract and have each member of the family read and sign it so that everyone understands their responsibilities.
Finally, it is important that you emphasize to your child that they can talk to you anytime about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable or if they are not sure about something. Opening the lines of communication at a young age will lead to regular conversations that will continue as your child grows.
You can find a list of Top 10 Digital Safety Tips for Parents and a family contract at www.everloop.com that we at Everloop developed to help parents keep their families safe online.
Stay tuned for more posts, and in the meantime start bridging the gap.
Hilary DeCesare, a Danville area resident, is the Co-Founder and CEO of Everloop.com, the safe, online headquarters for kids to connect, create, share and goob.