Cheat Codes to Digital Parenting

As digital immigrants, I have seen a lot of my friends in a constant dilemma/struggle about bringing up children in this digital age. I understand, there aren’t any rule books that can be used as a guide or any previous experience to fall back upon. Consequently, there arises digital conflicts between parents and kids ranging from device use to social media excesses. Before we get onto the solution, we need to understand the inherent nature of kids living in a connected world.

  • It is difficult to keep kids off the digital world – The demarcation between the real world and digital world is fast disappearing, as children start using the digital medium for education, entertainment and socializing at an early age and continue to use it increasingly as they grow up.
  • Stay updated on all that’s happening in your teen’s life -To understand our kids better and be on the same page with them, we need to be aware of issues they relate to, including staying updated on tech.
  • Monitoring is essential – I am sure we never intend to let our kids away from our sight while going out until they are mature. The same way there is a need to monitor their digital footprints as well. They should be guided on the dos and don’ts, until they show an adequate sense of responsibility and know how to rightly handle online situations.

Keeping these in our mind, let’s get started on our digital citizenship primer for kids. Here are some cheat codes that will surely make digital parenting a much smoother experience.

#Cheat Code 1: Extend real life values to cover the virtual world.

The values we have and revere are those that have been handed down to us by our families and enforced in the Value Education classes in school. These include:

  • Courtesy
  • Responsibility
  • Courage
  • Empathy
  • Judiciousness

They work well in the virtual world too. Teach him/her to be well-mannered, stand up against wrongs like cyberbullying and respect people’s need for privacy. Also, explain the need for discretion with personal data

#Cheat Code 2: Think of digital devices as portals to unknown territories. Use home safety rules.

You have the ‘Dos and Don’ts of staying alone at home’ drilled into your child, right? Let’s extend this to cover the cyberworld.

  • Secure devices– Use only those devices that are secured with a comprehensive security tool. This is how you fortify your digital space.
  • Stop unauthorized access Use only secure Wi-Fi connections, VPN or mobile internet connections.
  • THINK. CLICK. – Do not click on links or attachments or respond to spam emails. Keep passwords strong and DO NOT share them with anyone except parents.

#Cheat code 3: Extend your stranger-danger rule to cover the digital world. 

  • Do not connect with strangers: It is very easy to hide one’s identity and pretend to be someone else online. The same person may adopt different identities. It’s safer to connect with people you know in the real world.
  • Do not trust online friends: If someone asks too many questions or makes you feel uncomfortable immediately report that person to your parents and together decide what to do.
  • Do not visit unfamiliar sites: You may suddenly land on a website that looks exciting and interesting but stop a minute! Did you want to go there? Does the web address seem genuine? If in doubt, abort mission and return to safety.
  • Do not accept free gifts or favour from anyone; nothing comes free in this world.

#Cheat Code 4: Reiterate that every action has consequence online too

Help kids develop long-term vision, understand what seems like fun may actually not be so:

  • Over Sharing: If privacy is breached, your personal information may be misused. So, avoid sharing too much data. Sometimes, you unknowingly share your personal data, for instance while signing up on gaming websites or taking quizzes etc. Things you should avoid sharing include your name, date of birth, address, pet’s name and mother’s maiden name. These may be used to steal your identity.
  • Digital addiction: Like excess of cold drinks harms teeth, excess of online activities is also harmful to health. Practice digital balance.
  • Say NO to cyberbullying: Neither should you accept bad behaviour online nor should you be a party to cyberbullying. It’s wrong and may have unforeseen consequences. Report bullies to parents or teachers.

It’s pretty simple after knowing these cheat codes, isn’t it? As Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn’, open your communication channels with your kids. Involve them and make your way through to protect your kids online from the digital world threats.

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