How to Talk to Your Kids About Their Online Life
With 1.6 million children running away from their homes each year, it’s crucial that parents understand the critical need to monitor their children’s social media use, keeping track of who they are talking to online, what they are sharing and when. For many parents, the main barrier to monitoring their children’s online life is not just how to start, but how to explain it. Talking to your kids about monitoring their online life is like any other “talk.” It varies widely based on their age and if/how you have spoken about it in the past. A conversation with a teenager that you are just starting to monitor is much different that a conversation with a 6-year-old who you have always checked up on.
For young children, it is about setting things up properly from the get-go. Young children’s interaction with technology is at its highest rate ever. Screen time and access to information is unprecedented and with that comes the very real need to monitor how your children interact with technology and the outside world.
If you have a conversation with your children very early in their technology use, the hurdles to their understanding will be very small. They expect you to monitor their activities and do not have the same sense of independence that you find in teenagers.
For older children, you need to be sensitive to the changing dynamic. It can take time to introduce a new precedent, especially if you haven’t spoken about it before. You have to explain why you decided to make this change. Be honest — if it is based on behavior you have observed, say so. But be careful not to frame it as a punishment. Punishments end, and watching out for your kids online shouldn’t.
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