It’s interesting to note that as the digital rush fades some older teens abandon their social accounts almost completely, posting only occasionally. They’ve been there, done that and realise that the digital facsimile of real life doesn’t quite cut it. And they don’t like the way it sets them up for judgements from peers or can lead to bullying from ‘anonymous’ people on the fringes of their social circles.
Alas, the same can’t be said of the younger pre-teens who are still enamoured of apps like Tik Tok and would quite happily carry on clicking beneath their bed covers if sleep didn’t overtake them. Of course, this is almost natural given that they’re often clutching smartphones and tablets before their first birthday.
Here are four quick tips to help the younger offspring maintain a balance and keep cool online so their life doesn’t become a one-way narrow digital track with little room for wheelies, bashed up knees and other things that are so natural and essential to childhood.
Nail down time out
Kids can get addicted to tech. You can keep them on the straight and narrow from an early age by ensuring they don’t use their devices at bedtime, actually turn them off and remove them when their use becomes obsessive. It’s also a good time to introduce other regular periods of device downtime such as at mealtimes.
Help open their eyes
We all know that kids can be vulnerable to the pitfalls of the online world such as scams, theft of personal data, viruses and more. Teach them about suspicious websites and links and the importance of keeping passwords and personal information private. Further, they should know not share photos that could put them or their friends in a compromising position. And finally, they need to know to only download apps from official app stores. Unofficial stores can be a murky minefield of malware.
Cool or rude?
One of the responsibilities parents and carers take on is guiding their children through the course of toddler tantrums, playground spats, falling out with friends, in short, the art of communicating. Or to put it another way growing up. And the guidance they need in the real world also applies in the digital world.
A simple way of keeping the kids straight to is to get them to ask themselves would they say in person what they are saying online. Of course some of the cheeky blighters will answer ‘Yes’. But in seriousness it’s a simply powerful way of impressing the need to be respectful to others when online.
Cast your mind back to the summer holidays, perhaps you and the kids were at a beach, yomping across hills or simply having fun in the local park. And where were their smartphones? They were the last things on their mind, pure fun was the thing not the digital world. This is instructive.
Device downtime can also be a regular scheduled thing, a gentle rule of sorts that helps the kids direct their energies elsewhere, whether it’s hanging out with friends, running around the park or just being at home – without device. You might find yourself challenged, well, you probably will, but it will be worth it and those always busy, ever seeking minds will find something else to attach their innate curiosity too.