Technology has opened up a whole new world for adults, children and families. It allows individuals to learn new things on their own and expand the horizon of their knowledge. Children especially have a chance to learn more about the world around them, reinforce subjects they learn in school with apps and websites and teach themselves new skills. Increased screen time in the form of television, tablets, laptops and phones comes with many benefits. However, this is a double-edged sword – with these benefits also come certain dangers. Overdependency on screens, online predators and a disconnect from the real world are all very real dangers in the digital world.
Do not begin the conversation from an overbearing position – where your family feels rules are being imposed on them. Open up the conversation at dinner or when you are together as a family. Make sure your children understand why these rules are being put in place and how they are meant to benefit them. Also, ensure that these rules extend to all members of the family – it is equally easy for adults (if not more) to become overly dependent on digital media and screen time.
Set screen time limits for children – allowing them ample time to work on their projects and homework, watch their favourite show and possibly look at their favourite websites or play games. It is easy to lose track of time while sitting in front of a screen. One YouTube video merges into the next and before you know it, an hour or two has gone by. When they are given limitations, children use screens more consciously; dividing up their time between their favourite activities.
Curate and suggest websites for your children and guide them towards useful websites. They should be consuming healthy and beneficial content; which you can direct them towards. Your children will be grateful to have suggestions for interesting, educational and entertaining content. This will help in making children more well-rounded internet users and consumers of beneficial content.
Teach your children to keep an eye out for scams or inappropriate content and teach them how to steer away from it. Put filters in your search engines and ensure that explicit content is blocked. Children must also be guided on how to be kind internet users – make them understand the damage caused by cyberbullying and make sure they approach an adult if they are victims.
Most importantly, digital media is a great way to connect with children and explore their interests as a family. Take a little time out to explore the amazing world of media together as a family.