Parenting is hard. Nothing really prepares you for it.
When I was pregnant I read just about everything I could get my hands on: how to breastfeed, developmental stages, researched the best foods and strollers and much more. I felt prepared. But after coming home with a tiny infant— I went from feeling prepared to feeling overwhelmed!
Parenting is hard. And in our 21st century society it’s even harder when you throw technology and Internet into the mix. That feeling of being overwhelmed can turn quickly to fear and anxiety. What do you do?
As a parent I certainly don’t know all the answers, but I’m not overwhelmed any more. Time, research, communication and a willingness to embrace change has made me more confident, particularly when it comes to technology.
The key to being a successful digital parent is communication. When we feel overwhelmed, we aren’t open to talking. We create black and white rules that make us feel comfortable—but do little to create lines of communication between us and our children.
We aren’t saying there should be no rules, but that they should be attached to appropriate developmental stages. And any rule should be built through ongoing communication between adult and child.
The 3Ms of Digital Parenting are based around communication. When you talk with your child, a base of trust develops that can grow through adulthood.
Model- up to age 8
When a child is young the greatest teacher are the people they are around the most, their parents or caregivers. This is the time to model appropriate behavior. Create shared expectations around technology in the household. If you don’t put your phone down during dinner—why should your child?
Manage- up to age 13
At this stage those shared expectations around technology can be taken to the next level. Consider letting your child have their own account online which you would manage. This creates opportunities for your child to share their thoughts and creations online. Their online experiences will be both positive and negative, but the negative can provide another chance for communication.
Monitor- Age 13-18
Hopefully there’s been a base of trust and expectations set before the teen years. Your child will be on their own soon, away from parental modeling, managing and monitoring. Now you can take a further step back; allow them their own accounts without little supervision. Monitor how they’re doing and pay attention to changes in your child’s behavior. Be a sounding board and a place for them to bring questions and concerns.
Parenting is hard. And being a digital parent can be even harder.
We at Digital Respons-Ability can help. We offer workshops and training for parents around technology. We not only teach on devices and trends, but ways to facilitate communication and build trust.
Contact us to learn more.