(NC) Being a parent is a tough job, one that only gets more complicated when your kids start to go online and use smart devices. And with children as young as toddlers hopping onto their mom or dad’s tablets, the earlier you start the conversation about using the internet responsibly, the better. Use these tips to prepare for when your child is a toddler or a teenager and every age in between.
1. Don’t worry about the latest apps. Even if you’re not up-to-date on the latest platforms, you play an important role in your kids’ digital lives. Your kids will probably school you on new technology, but from you they need guidance, support and an understanding of online safety, which applies to everything from trying out a new filter to posting on social media.
2. Be part of your kids’ media lives. What your kids are watching, playing, reading and listening to is a big part of their real world. Younger kids are usually glad when their parents show an interest in things they like, so get them to show you how their new favourite game works or why they’re so excited about joining a new social network. You can also use media to talk about sensitive issues like bullying or racism.
3. Ask questions. Do you remember responding well to lectures and rules from your parents when you were a kid? Probably not. Instead, ask lots of age-appropriate, open-ended questions to let them guide the conversation.
4. Communicate values. Teach your kids that playground rules and online rules are often the same — respect for people’s feelings, privacy and property will go a long way. Respect is a great starting point for talking about heavier topics like cyberbullying, sexting and illegal downloading.
5. Become their trusted go-to. Many kids don’t go to their parents when things go wrong because they’re scared of getting in trouble. When your kids start going online, make sure they know clear procedures on what to do if things go wrong, like if they can’t figure out a game or they accidentally access something unpleasant. If they get into the habit of coming to you about the little things, they’ll be a lot more likely to talk to you about bigger problems.
Find more information online at www.GetCyberSafe.ca.