Tips for parents with children growing up in our digital world.

Technology and digital media has changed the way our children, play, learn, communicate and socialise, from an increasingly early age. Along with all the positives, mobile phones, tablets, computers, internet access and social media are presenting parents with new challenges. So how do we better manage our children’s exposure to the digital world from an early age, to ensure their long term wellbeing?

Establish your family guidelines.

Teach your children about technology from a young age and teach them healthy habits. As you wouldn’t trust your children with a baby sitter you knew nothing about, the same goes for trusting the online world. Do your homework, keep an eye out for their usage and interaction.

Whatever the child’s age learning to respect privacy and protecting personal information should be ongoing and age appropriate. Look at how your child interacts with different technology. Is it used for fun, school, communication, creating, socialising?  There is always an older sibling or friend who may influence your child so stay tuned to your child’s usage and keep talking to your child, guide them without over reacting.

Protect bedtime.

Studies show the use of digital media at night can interfere with sleep quality. Thirty minutes before bed think about restricting   computer, phone or tablet usage for at least 30 minutes before bed.

Respectful online interactions

Your kids should learn to be respectful in their interactions online. This should be no different when socialising face to face at school, when out and about or in the home. If they do find some troubling information or witness cyberbullying encourage them to come to you.

Everything online is not true.

Discuss digital decision-making as your child gets older. How reliable is the information on a website; teach your children to not just accept everything they read or see online as true. We all know how clicking on the unfamiliar links can also cause problems as can  sharing personal information on unknown apps or websites or clicking on suspicious links. If your child does receive messages from strangers teach them not to respond and to let you know.

Other useful tips include:

  • encourage your children to have face to face friendships and relationships first, not only connecting online. This will help them develop their social skills throughout their adolescent years and beyond.
  • parents to keep up and to take an interest in the new apps and sites that your children are using.
  • laptops and computers to be kept in a family area not the bedroom
  • use an internet system that offers parental control and personal protection

By Janice Killey Senior Psychologist at Psychologists Southern Sydney

If you have concerns about your child or adolescent and their wellbeing or mental health our psychologists are here to help. This website has more information about our practice and how we can help you.