Digital Parenting

Your kids may always be an app ahead of you, but they will always need your parenting wisdom and guidance.

The internet is evolving on a daily basis. Wait, it’s  actually changing minute by minute, and it can be a perfect excuse for parents to say — they simply can’t keep up!


What they are forgetting is, for parents, staying in touch with technology updates and your child’s social behavior online — is now part of parenting today. In other words, you don’t have an option.

We often talk about how schools need to implement cyber-civics, and I couldn’t agree more. The gap lies with the parents.

Frequently I hear from schools and tech experts, one of the hardest things to do is getting parents involved – it’s a challenge motivating parents to attend workshops or conferences about digital parenting. Many schools will report that the turnout is typically low. Sadly, it usually takes a small town making national news for unlikely events, or worse a headline like that of the young teen that took her life in front of her family – to give parents a moment of pause. However, it’s all too soon before that pause becomes just another day. Most parents believe these things could never happen to them – or their community.

In a Common Sense Census, Plugged In Parents of Tweens and Teens, it uncovered that parents spend an average of nine hours with social media daily and the vast amount of that time is spent with personal screen media. Interestingly seventy-eight percent of the parents surveyed believe they are good technology role models for their children. Are they?

Do parents need to be reminded of social etiquette?

Like our kids, grown-ups seem to be digitally connected the majority of the day too. We want our children to be involved in digital literacy classes, yet who are we learning from?

Are you disconnected when talking to your friends?

Are you minding your cyber-manners when leaving comments on social media?

Are you asking permission before posting pictures of friends or relatives?

Are you unplugging during mealtime?

Are you texting and driving?

Being an interested parent and facing virtual reality

For most parents, they are overwhelmed with all these new apps, live streaming, sites and technology that seem to have no boundaries – and definitely never ending. It’s time for parents to jump on board – there may never be a day you will master every app or how to Snap or Tweet or even Facebook Live, however you must be a parent that is interested in learning about all of it. Why? Because your kids are!

You’re never too old to learn, even when it comes to technology.

L – Listen to your kids. You may be plugged into your own device, but you must detach from your cyber-place long enough to hear about where the youth (your kids) are trending online.

E – Engage in conversations with your kids about social media sites – online. Yes, go online with your teen and have them explain firsthand how to use apps you may fear.

A – Actively learn about new cyber-security measures to share with your family. For example how Instagram recently updated their features by adding a resource to flag posts when users are emotionally struggling.

R – Reach-out to other parents, relatives and friends. Share and learn from each other about cyber safety, apps and discuss what their kids are doing online. Chances are good – your child is also using the same sites.

N – Never stop being interested! Think of it like your child’s sports or dance team. I know parents wouldn’t miss these events – and they change schedules to make them happen. The fact is, these extra-curriculum are important to youth, but their technology skills will be with them a lifetime. Don’t lose your interest.

We encourage our kids to be good students — it’s time parents lead by example in this role too.

Don’t forget about Sext Education.

Your online behavior is an extension of your online reputation.

Improving your online behavior

The foundation of online behavior is civility. In an age of cruelty and trolling, we must learn to use our keypads wisely.

3 C’s of online behavior:

Conduct: Check-in with yourself before you post online. Become self-aware of your emotions before you hit send. Anger is temporary, online is forever.

Content: Will it embarrass you or someone else? Fifteen minutes of humor is never worth a lifetime of humiliation. Keep in mind, jokes don’t always translate the same digitally as they do offline.

Caring: Care enough about yourself to know when to click-out when you’re about to leave a snarky or mean comment.

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