If I were addressing all of you in an auditorium and asked how many of your children, grandchildren, etc. possess cellphones, tablets, laptops, gaming devices etc., the majority, if not all of you, would raise your hands.
If I posed the question “Do you know who they talk to, chat with and what websites/pages they look at?” I would wager to guess the show of hands would be considerably smaller.
Why? The internet is safe, right? Predators and scams are easily identified, right? Oh, my child would never look at (fill in the blank). I taught my child so that he/she would never (fill in the blank). My kid knows better.
Do any of the above statements relate to you and your assumed parental way of thinking?
We cannot rely on the internet, cable TV or gaming devices to “raise” our kids or be their sole examples of reality. It is our responsibility as caregivers to mold and form our children into good, productive citizens. We must lead by example.
Social media platforms and celebrities should not serve as children’s primary role models. Albeit, many celebrities and people in the news are great examples of philanthropic lifestyles, many others simply promote superficiality and excess. Choose wisely those you want your kids to emulate.
I disagree with encouraging little girls and boys to grow up too fast. Entertaining the idea of or teasing them at very young ages about having “boyfriends” or “girlfriends” sets up unhealthy relationship expectations for them. Children should be allowed to experience the innocence of childhood for as long as possible.
Praising both boys and girls for acting and looking “grown up” is also dangerous. Do you honestly think it’s cute for your 9-year-old daughter/granddaughter/niece to wear a full face of exaggerated makeup giving a “duck face” pose on social media? Odds are if you think it’s cute so do predators phishing the world wide web.
Allowing very young children unlimited access to the internet while giving expensive phones to kids under the age of 12 opens doors that should remain closed.
I do understand safety and the situations many latch-key kids face, having to be alone at home on a regular basis. I’m not against cellphones or other communication devices, just unsupervised access for children.
It is imperative to have an open line of communication with our kids. Know who their friends are. Have conversations with your kids in the commute to and from school, work, etc. Unplug often so devices don’t interfere with you talking with your children. Be honest with your kids. This will entice them to be honest in return.
Most importantly, be the safe person your child can confide in without judgement. Trust can be a very powerful tool in parenting.
Bottom line: parents, including me, are not perfect. We make mistakes … often. Learning from those mistakes is the key. The end result will be a more positive working relationship between you and your kids.