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Parenting in the digital age

Parenting in the digital age

By Natalia McPhedran

Parenting in a digital age comes with two big challenges: excessive use and behavioural concerns. Video gaming addiction is on the rise, and kids are impulsively posting things with the hopes of achieving celebrity status.  Unfortunately, some of their postings could get them into trouble.

Here’s what you as a parent can do to help your kids stay in control:

– Make a contract that clearly indicates gaming days and non-gaming days.This teaches them that video games are not like vitamins that you need to take on a daily basis. On non-gaming days, let the creative juices flow.

– Decide on a fair playing time and set up a timer. If kids learn how to self-regulate at an early age, it will prepare them for what comes next: studying and managing their time.

– Keep laptops and tablets in a shared area. Kids are migrating to YouTube and Netflix away from cable. Being able to hear what they’re watching is part of the new responsibilities of digital parenting. If they turn the volume down, walk over and see why. Are they wearing ear buds? Casually walk behind them and quickly glance at the screen.  Ninety per cent of kids ages 8 to 16 years old have viewed porn … Just sayin’.

– There should be a cut-off time when all devices are set to Airplane Mode and given to their parents. When kids text past a certain time they post things they regret; it disrupts their ability to fall asleep; and it leads to excessive use.

– Follow your kids on their social media. Openly tell them your secret username (complete with an incognito photo), and just be there. Don’t comment on their posts or follow their friends. You are simply there to monitor that their posts are appropriate and won’t affect their future digital footprint. Being informed, having open dialogues with your children and setting fair and realistic boundaries are ways to survive digital parenting. The digital revolution is irreversible and moms and dads need to find ways to adapt.

Natalia McPhedran is an Ontario-based digital parenting coach, author and speaker.