How many Internet-enabled devices are in your home right now? The average two-person family owns seven connected devices. Families of three or more own an average of 10. Between tablets, laptops, smart phones, gaming systems, and music players, your family may have as many as 15 or 16.
While it relieves parents to know their children can connect with them and get help whenever and wherever they need it, the proliferation of devices is changing the face of “digital parenting”. Just a few years ago when the average number of household devices was much lower, it was easier to keep tabs on those few devices that your child had access to. Now that it is hard to even keep track of what devices your child is evening using, the days of “parental control” seem to be behind us.
Today parents need to think about how they can quickly and easily monitor their child's accounts, not just the devices they use. Tween and teens are far more fluid about switching between devices frequently than their parents. Adults may find it comfortable to stick with their tablet or smart phone for most of their Internet needs, but today’s kids regularly hop from device to device and maintaining constant connectivity throughout.
Parents also don't have time to sift through all the data their child generates and consumes. The sheer volume of activity today creates an enormous information gap for parents. Kids ages 8 to 18 now spend an average of 7.5 hours per day on using a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device. Studies show that the average teen sends and receives about 4,000 texts a month and spends over two hours a day connecting to on social media sites and apps.
At uKnow.com, the creators of uKnowKids™, we have pioneered the thinking that as our children’s digital world has evolved, so must our approach towards digital parenting and the technology tools parents use to educate, engage and protect their kids.
The following are a few tips to consider when setting up your digital parenting game plan.
Set the expectation with your child that your approach towards oversight and house will probably evolve as technology evolves. This will minimize the perception that you are “changing the rules.” For example, you may not have monitored your son’s old feature phone but his smart phone is a mini computer. It is natural to come with different rules and conditions
Talk to your kids early and often about what they are doing online and with their mobile devices. Asking kids what they are doing online shouldn’t be any more uncomfortable than asking them what they’re doing in math class.
Treat all Internet-enabled devices like Internet-enabled devices. Meaning, if your house rule is that kids cannot use the home computer after 9:00 pm, then they shouldn’t be taking their smart phone or iPod touch® to bed with them.
Play online games with your kids. This generation of kids isn’t playing Monopoly®, Connect Four® and Risk® - unless it’s online or through an app. If the only time you engage with your child’s digital world is when you are “playing the heavy”, digital parenting will be much more difficult. Let your child give you a tour of the Minecraft® world they’re building or play
Use a Parental Intelligence System like uKnowKids. uKnowKids is more than mobile phone and social network monitoring service, it’s a parental intelligence system. uKnowKids makes it easier for parents to spot, dig-out, and analyze patterns in their child’s digital world that, when identified, can be used by parents to educate, engage and protect their child as they grow to become more independent users of technology. Create a free account and try it for yourself.
Parenting has never been more difficult than it is today but if you follow these tips, even when your kids resist, it will get easier.
Let me know what you think and if you have some tips for other parents, please share.
Parenting has become increasingly more complicated with cell phones and computers. Read about how you can keep up with it all in our eBook! Download “Digital Parenting: The Essential Guide to Raising Connected Kids” now.