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Digital Parenting – The Prescribed Parenting Style for New-Age Kids

Kruti Beesam
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Switch to digital parenting! Pretty much everything has changed in this digital era. When everything has changed to become adaptable to technology, parenting should not be an exception. Following the same parenting methods as people did in the pre-digital era even today, can harm your child. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center on people who are parents to both- teens  (around 18 years) and young adults (mid-20s) in March this year, 66 percent of parents in the United States feel that the difficulties of parenting have increased with the advent of technology powered by the internet.

How To Adapt To Digital Parenting

Since we cannot eliminate technology or internet access from the life of today’s children, we must find ways to ensure optimal use and to mitigate the possible damage that a child is exposed to. There are many ways in which you can ensure this. Adaptive parenting can help you safeguard your child from many dangerous outcomes while allowing digital usage to be one of the activities in your child’s life. Adaptive parenting is a way of nurturing a positive growth environment for a child while acknowledging the child’s need to depend on the internet for a few activities at one time or another.

Here are some methods you can use to guide your child in using the internet.

Set Some Rules While Digital Parenting

Make it clear to your child that he or she will be allowed only a limited amount of screen time per day. This could differ with the age group your child belongs to. Experts say that toddlers should not be exposed to the internet and devices for more than an hour in a day. So maybe you could allow your two-year-old a video call with grandparents and keep him/her away from the phone after that’s done. The screen time allowed for an older kid could differ based on your judgment of his/her ability to consciously use digital content.

Be strict about these rules and, if possible, follow them yourself at least for some time to set a good example. Say no to the internet at specific times like during meals, a couple of hours before bedtime, family gatherings and travelling. Ensure that these rules are strictly adhered to for a good number of days until they become your child’s habit.

Not An Ideal Pacifier

New-age parents are often seen using the internet either to keep a child’s tantrums at bay or as an indulgence while feeding them. It is not a good idea. Allowing this will make the kid assume that a phone, for example, is more of a device for entertainment instead of knowing that it is simply a sophisticated medium of communication. Hitha P.S., a counsellor at a Kendriya Vidyalaya in Kochi throws more light on this aspect by speaking about behaviour addition. A term used in psychiatry for a compulsion to behave in certain ways. Hitha says behaviour addiction is prompted and enhanced by early exposure to devices that support the internet and expose children to a variety of unfiltered igital content.

Privacy Settings of An Online Life

Whether we like it or not, the new-age kids are invariably going to spend a good share of their time virtually. While we can’t do much to change that fact, we can limit the time and monitor the content. When you insist on putting away the smartphone or switching off the computer, make sure you explain to your child why you are doing what you are doing. It will make them accept your decision and obey you willingly.

Another important aspect of parenting in the digital era is to educate a child about the kind of cybercrimes that happen and the need for cautious virtual behaviour.  In the same context, parents must teach their kids about the privacy settings available on the websites they use regularly. This knowledge will help a child discriminate between the information that can be shared publicly and the information that is private i.e., information that should be kept to themselves and avoid sharing it with anyone other than immediate family members.

  Internet Time Always Under Parental Guidance

Ensure that the time your child spends online is monitored by you. This way you can see if the child is indulging in something he or she is not supposed to. This will allow you to stop the kid when viewing something you don’t approve of before it becomes a behaviour addiction.    

Deal With Mistakes Wisely

It is natural for children to make mistakes of sharing, subscribing or pressing the ‘like’ button while exploring the vast content that is available to them online. In such a situation, it is wise for a parent to turn it into a learning experience for a child. When you tell the child what is wrong, be sure to support your statement with the reason behind it. Telling your child why you think something is wrong with the content they are viewing will make them ponder over it. Mere glorifying of mistakes might create a rebel who will further increase the difficulty in parenting. Try to explain things in a neutral tone such that the right behaviour is reinforced. Next time the situation arises, your kid must know what to do, how to do it and why he/she is doing it.

Parenting styles are as unique as the child being dealt with. Use the above-mentioned methods in a way that is most suitable to your child’s personality.

Kruti Beesam
Kruti Beesam

Kruti enjoys blogging and listening to music. She actively tries to sensitise people towards disabilities and create awareness about the need for wheelchair friendly infrastructure. Being a foodie, Kruti looks forward to meeting new people and sharing a good meal with them.

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