We’re all hoping that it exists somewhere.
That one app or piece of software or program that will do everything when it comes to keeping our kids safe online, protecting them from cyberbullies and online predators, helping them make good choices when they’re surfing, and teaching them how to be good digital citizens.
We want an app that does it all.
And I’ve got some great news. It does, indeed, exist.
Look in the mirror, parent.
That’s right. We can’t simply install a filter and hope for the best. We can’t rely on the school to teach good digital behavior.
You are the best app for your digital kids.
Like any app though, this one needs to be used correctly. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Don’t settle for the free version; go Premium
You know how some apps have a free or “lite” version, but in the end we’re always a little disappointed in them? They don’t have all the features that we expected, so they are far inferior to the full version.
When it comes to parenting digital kids, you have to buy the premium version.
For the amount of time our kids spend online, they can’t afford to have us parent half-heartedly. We need to bring the full feature set into our parenting. We need to be deliberate about the multiple tactics, techniques, and tricks that we use when parenting this digital generation.
The premium version offers the complete package. We can’t be in this for the short term; there is no 30-day trial. We can’t simply pay attention to one or two aspects of their digital life; we need to have the entire picture.
Make sure it is installed
In order for this amazing app to work, just like other apps, it has to be installed.
It’s not enough to know that we need to be doing more as parents. It’s not enough to be aware that there are scary things online, negative effects that are taking their toll, or opportunities that are being missed. We need to be plugged in to our plugged-in kids.
While we need to learn as much as possible about devices and social media and the like, we also need to keep “learning” our kids. The only way to really do that is to unplug from our own technology on occasion, and connect with them.
This is something that we all know, of course. Yet so often we allow our own technology to get in the way, and we remain “uninstalled.”
Above all, we need to be modeling appropriate and healthy technology use. It is an understatement to say that our kids will learn more from what they see than what they hear.
Get the settings right
There’s nothing more frustrating than installing an app only to have it not do what you expected it to do. Very often, this is because we don’t have the settings right.
When it comes to digital parenting, are our settings right?
Are we open-minded enough to listen to our kids when they tell us about their experiences online? Or do we react poorly because we have the sensitivity or paranoia sliders up to full-tilt?
Do we handle each conversation about technology with our kids as a fellow learner on a similar journey to figure this whole technology thing out with them? Or is our Know-It-All box checked?
And do we have our settings tailored and personalized to each child in our house? Or are we applying the same standards across the board for our own convenience?
Time to check your settings.
Every once in a while, an app stops working. Or it just starts acting a little bit glitchy. Sometimes this is because it hasn’t been updated lately.
This creates a compatibility issue. It no longer works as well with the system around it as it once did. Usually a quick update will fix all of that, and it will run smoothly once again.
How often are you updating your digital parenting?
Are you keeping up-to-date with the latest social media? I know it’s not easy, with technology changing as rapidly as it does.
But it’s that rapidly changing world that your child is growing up in.
Do you know what the latest studies say about screen-time? Are you familiar with the links between technology use and ADHD, autism, obesity, or any other health-related issues? Do you know what the recommended amount of technology use is for each age? Do you know the warning signs of cyberbullying?
It’s enough to overwhelm even the savviest of parents, isn’t it?
Ask any parents from a previous generation, and they’ll admit that parenting today is much harder than it used to be. Not much consolation, huh?
But we can do this. We can equip ourselves with the knowledge and skills we need to effectively raise balanced kids in a digital world.
Is your app updated?
One of my goals here at ParentingDigital is to try to provide those resources that help my fellow parents stay updated, get and stay installed, and set their settings right, so that they can be the premium version of digital parents that they want to be.
All the same things that I am trying to do myself. Every day.