The proliferation of internet-connected devices in schools and at home has put pressure on parents to choose to either censor their kids, or to act as digital mentors. Digital Mentorship is always the better alternative to censorship, and now we have research to prove it.
Shielding Them From Technology Doesn’t Work
Shielding your child from technology is like hoping that they will believe in Santa forever–you can only keep it up for so long. Eventually, other kids will start to have devices and your kids will start playing with their friends stuff. Get ahead of the problem and guide their digital experience in the beginning. Help them form good digital habits early on and they will keep them for life.
Tech has benefits they would be missing out on
The internet is ripe with valuable information for kids of all ages. iPads, iPhones and computers can all be super valuable tools for learning, and parents can give their kids the benefit without the negatives if they take a hands-on approach to ensure their kid’s have a balanced “digital diet.”
Instead of just handing them an iPad and forgetting about it, load it up first with educational apps you think they might like and set strict limits for screen time.
Tech savy Parents are Better Communicators
Research from the University of Kansas looked at the number of communication channels used by parents and their adult children, and found that the more channels, the better the relationship was between parent and child. This was assuming there was already high “communication competency” which helps to ensure messages aren’t being misinterpreted. If signals are constantly being crossed, it’s important to fix that before adding any more channels to the mix.
Tech Provides a Meeting Place For Kids and Parents
Many parents want to be on social platforms and link up with their kids, but some of them are idle users–they don’t engage with what their kids are posting or saying. Parents need to take the next step and actually engage with the photos and status updates. Use each platform to engage with your kids and make it a meeting place for your family.
The kicker? It’ll make your kids better people.
According to a study done by BYU, teenagers in families who used social media to stay connected are less likely to be depressed, delinquent, and aggressive. Conversely, they were more likely to be kind and thoughtful with others.
Digital Mentorship First Steps
Ok. Ok. Now you know that being a digital mentor is important, but what is the next step? Have a conversation with your kids! Ask them what they spend their time on when they are online. Ask them to show you how to use (insert social network here), trust me they will be blown away that you even care about using it.
Be persistent! It may take some time to learn, and your kids might be reluctant to engage at first, but over time it will become a healthy communication habit for everyone.