If you have children, then you know how hard it is to tell them “no” or to impose limitations on things that make them happy. It’s not that you want to be hard on them, but rather that you care about their wellbeing. Children need a healthy balance of independence, skills development, socialization, and the adoption of healthy habits in order to be set up for an all-around better life once they’re on their own.
So, with that said, how do you tackle the challenge of monitoring your child’s internet usage? Today, let’s explore this in more detail.
Striking a Balance
Before we dive in, let’s not forget the benefits of having the internet at home. For your children, it allows them to constantly learn new things, interact with friends who live far away, take care of schoolwork as more of it moves to online portals for lesson plans and whatnot, and keeps them entertained rather than rambunctious. However, there is such a thing as too much access for little minds that are more susceptible to developing negative traits and habits. Your goal as a parent should be to ensure they take considerable breaks between online sessions, therefore getting out and not tiring out their eyes while ensuring a sufficiently active lifestyle. Encouraging them to play with friends outdoors rather than hop on social media is a good idea, for instance.
They Don’t Need Social Media
If you grew up in the decades before constant internet access on every device was a thing, then you know that social media is not something any child really needs. It’s simply another distraction and, to be frank, an excuse to socially isolate themselves, which is what you want to avoid in order to give them the best start in life. It’s healthier and more productive for them to interact with friends and schoolmates in person, as it combines learning new information with developing social skills that can help them later on. In fact, none of us need social media when you think about it that way, but it’s so deeply ingrained in modern society that there’s no real way to avoid creating even one account at some point, whether out of curiosity or convenience. Still, this can always be later in your child’s lifetime – they won’t be missing out on anything important and might just be grateful for the healthier skills you pushed them to develop otherwise.
Keep Tech Toys to a Minimum
Does your child know another who has a tablet, smartwatch, smartphone, all the gaming consoles in the world, and who-knows-what-else in terms of tech toys? Well, you’ll probably start hearing requests from them to get their own devices. The thing is, it’s perfectly fine for them to have items like this to enjoy, but you need to be careful about how you integrate them with their lives. For instance, having a single iPad in the house that they partly cover with their allowance, and therefore respect more, is a great lesson in being responsible and appreciating what one has. Such devices are fantastic learning tools, ideal for travelling and keeping them under control, and are stimulating for the mind in a myriad of ways from sketching to brainteaser games and research for schoolwork.
What’s critical is that you don’t overdo it and keep the number of such devices for them in the house to a minimum. They need to understand that they don’t need everything under the sunless is more. The last thing you want is for them to beg and throw tantrums demanding the latest gadgets for no good reason – this signals the development of a negative, unhealthy mindset. Plus, with fewer devices for them to fiddle with, you can more effectively monitor their time online without making them feel like they can’t be trusted.
Implementing Best Practices
Finally, the best way to help monitor and keep your child’s internet usage under control is to help steer their minds towards good browsing habits. Learning to take breaks, not spending tens of hours clung to a screen, and focus on being responsible before playing around online are great examples. It takes a lot of patience and you can’t expect them to be perfect, but the more that you educate them while accepting that the internet is a healthy part of their everyday lives when used in moderation, the closer you’ll become and the more that they’ll take your advice seriously. Spend time online together and see what interests them, learn their habits, and see if you can gently guide them towards treating their web access as a privilege rather than a right.
All in all, your kids can get a lot of great information and stimulation from being online, but you need to be diligent about how deep its presence can root itself in their everyday lives. Try implementing these suggestions and see if they help – working together as a team and trying to understand one another is always the best course of action!