Everyone needs certain skills to survive in today’s digital world. Adults tend to acquire them as new technologies come along, but today’s children are practically born with a smartphone in their hand. It’s up to parents to teach them how to exist in a world of constant information bombardment. Here are seven habits that will help your children adapt to the Web.
1. Schedule time without devices
When children spend a lot of time using technology, they can get addicted to it. According to researchers from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, this addiction can lead to sleep problems, mood shifts, weight gain, poor self-image, and body-image issues.
Experts suggest introducing children to today’s online world by gradually increasing their screen time and removing restrictions. Some tips also apply to children of any age: The simplest and most effective include not using devices close to bedtime and silencing devices overnight. You should also agree on other times when kids are not allowed to use their phone, such as during family meals.
2. Take charge of charging
Although technology is advancing at lightning speed, today’s devices still run out of power quickly. You can kill two birds with one stone at bedtime by having children leave their devices charging somewhere outside of their bedroom such as in the entryway or kitchen — the device will always be charged in the morning, and your children won’t be able to watch TikTok trends right before bedtime.
Keep in mind that children tend to use their devices so much during the day that by the time evening rolls around, the phone battery is probably dead. If that’s the case in your household, consider buying portable chargers for your children, and get them into the habit of taking the chargers when they’ll be out for long.
3. Pay attention to information security and more
When children are immersed in the virtual world, they are susceptible to a host of dangers, both on the Web and in the real world. Start by stressing to them that they should not be staring at their phones while they’re crossing the street or walking up or down stairs.
Next up is online safety including Internet threats such as scams, theft of personal data, viruses, and much more. Tell your children not to visit suspicious websites (and teach them what that means), enter passwords or any personal information there, open strange-looking links, or download apps from anywhere but the official app stores.
Emphasize that they should never share personal documents, credit card information, or photos that could put them or their friends in a compromising position.
It is unlikely that children will remember and follow all of those rules right off the bat. To get help, you can turn to a reliable security solution. For example, Kaspersky Internet Security protects devices from viruses, phishing, and online scams, and Kaspersky Safe Kids helps shield children from dangerous content and limit the amount of time they spend on their devices.
4. Aim for sustainable media consumption
When our devices are constantly sending notifications, we can easily get overwhelmed and lose our concentration. Even adults sometimes have a hard time fighting the temptation to check messages, so you can imagine how difficult it is for kids. Limit the alerts on your children’s phones so they don’t get distracted from schoolwork or other tasks — and so they can finish their homework faster.
Unfortunately, you can’t get rid of notifications from all apps on all devices at once; you need to configure them separately on phones and laptops, and every operating system has its own specific features and built-in tools for doing so. We have some posts that can help you manage notifications:
5. Follow digital etiquette
Just as in the real world, unspoken rules govern Internet behavior. People usually master them simply by communicating online, but children need help avoiding awkward situations, so you should discuss certain expectations with them before they go online. For example, discuss the differences between communicating over e-mail, on social networks, and in messaging apps.
It’s also important to explain acceptable behavior. One rule of thumb is to ask before posting — every time — would I say this in person? Writing insults and demeaning people online is more than rude; it can be consequential.
6. Organize information
Some say an organized phone or computer reflects an organized mind. A messy closet probably doesn’t really affect your child’s life, but losing passwords or files or forgetting phone numbers can be a problem. Kids should learn to organize information from an early age.
Better yet, they should get in the habit of making backup copies of their most critical information. Make the most of external drives — flash drives or hard drives — or cloud storage. The latter is an important topic worth discussing separately. The cloud is a great resource, but children need to be cautious with it. They especially need to be careful not to allow just anyone access to important files.
7. Schedule a regular digital detox
With digital technology infiltrating almost every aspect of children’s lives, it’s virtually impossible to avoid information overload. That means children need to be able to step away and make the Internet a less important part of their lives — first with your help and then on their own.
First and foremost, limit the use of social networks — they tend to be the biggest drain on time and energy. The post “Eight steps to freedom: How to detach from social networks” has useful tips to help you and your children with this.
A more effective, although also more complicated, way to combat information overload is the digital detox, when you put away your devices for a certain amount of time. For best results, do this on a regular basis. You can combine detoxes with nature excursions, exercise, or activities with friends — no devices allowed.
The digital age has forced parents to confront brand-new challenges. As you deal with them, remember that you can be the best example for your children. It will be challenging to follow these rules at first, but over time they’ll become ingrained and will help your children reconnect with the world around them.