As a parent, you’re likely beginning to realize that technology will be a part of your kids’ life. The good news is that this prospect isn’t as negative as you may think. Many perks to technology can help your children thrive in school now and help them in their careers later. Still, caution continues to be of the essence. Dangers are lurking online, so teaching your kids how to be tech-savvy and do things right is important.
Here are some reasons why tech is essential for your children and tips to help them navigate the tech world responsibly.
Technology Can Help Children
Yes, there’s a lot of content on tech devices that’s either unsuitable for children or downright harmful, but it’s not all bad. There are benefits to technology and the online space, including the chance to build and be a part of a community online and the opportunity to have instant access to instructional videos where they can learn various skills. Your kids are also likely using computers in school to do their homework and complete projects, so it’s good that they have some level of understanding before they attend their classes.
As the world turns and time goes on, the future will only continue to be more technological, and many careers will be online. These days, many kids are interested in tech-based jobs, such as podcasting, vlogging, or creating digital art. They can use their devices to nurture those skills now and they could be a success in the future.
Social media sometimes gets a bad reputation due to the cyberbullying and upsetting content that can sometimes appear. Still, many of the top social media sites can also be a tool to help your kids hone their craft. For instance, Instagram is a very visual platform. So if your child is interested in art, they can use it to post pictures and use hashtags to build an audience.
Then there’s YouTube, where your kids may decide to start anything from a video game vlog to a music career and then use the monetization features to make a living down the line. There’s a lot that your kids can learn from technology, but you need to remain involved, especially once they become tech-savvy kids.
Provide A Healthy Balance
Although tech has some benefits for kids, it’s still important that you help them to maintain a healthy balance between being on their screens and doing activities away from their devices. According to social psychologist Adam Alter, who wrote the book “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked,” it’s wise to liken the balance of tech to the balance found in a healthy diet. You want them to learn about the positive aspects but not spend so much time online that they’re using technology to fill a void by getting “empty calories.”
You need to set screen time limits. Create rules that should be followed, like a time limit per day for how long a screen can be on or a certain time of the day when devices can be used. Parents need to get into the act by leading by example. You can’t tell the kids that they can’t have their phones at the dinner table and then have yours on at that same table.
Also, be aware of warning signs that rules are being violated or that your children are forming an unhealthy relationship with their devices. As psychologist Jon Lasser, co-writer of the book “Tech Generation: Raising Balanced Kids in a Hyper-Connected World” says, some warning signs may include temper tantrums when they can’t use their devices or when device usage gets so out of hand that it affects their sleep.
Of course, ensuring that your kids are getting the most out of their allotted screen time is vital. They’ll likely ask for more if the internet is choppy and they can’t enjoy their screen time. Additionally, sometimes they may need reliable internet to complete homework. When your kids are streaming video, they need a good download speed and a solid bandwidth for transferring data, which is expressed through megabits per second (Mbps). The internet and download speed you need will depend on the number of devices, so, for example, if you have a household with 6-10 computers, tablets, and cell phones, you’ll need download speeds of 30-50 Mbps.
Teach Kids Online Safety
Because so many people are online these days, teaching your kids how to use technology responsibly while avoiding potential risks is especially important. Start by setting rules for what websites they can and can’t visit and the subjects they can discuss on social media. You can put some trust in them to follow the rules, but you can also keep them honest by keeping the credentials to those social media channels so you can do spot checks to ensure they’re staying safe and responsible. You can also put parental controls on their web browser to prohibit them from visiting dangerous websites.
As tech continues to evolve, so will the tactics that cybercriminals use to try and hack into devices, so teach your kids now about how to avoid scams. Teach them how to make smart passwords. They should include complex combinations of letters, numbers, and special characters. It’s also imperative to teach them not to share any of their personal information on social media or any online platform because hackers can use that info to guess their credentials or create other scams.
The point is that it’s good for your kids to learn a bit about tech so they can excel in our increasingly digital world. They just need to do so responsibly.