(Family Magazine October 2010 1st Issue)
Last week a family with a little toddler came to visit us at our home. Since we keep our computer out in the living room area, he immediately saw an opportunity to play. He climbed up on the chair, very naturally put his hand on the mouse, and started maneuvering the pointer on the monitor screen. He was only two years old!
The computer is practically second nature for our children. Not only are the schools encouraging the use of computers at a young age, our children are using technology in all aspects of life, from social networking and instant messaging, to entertainment and online shopping. All this are literally at the tip of their fingers with computers and cell phones as well.
If you are a parent of children and teens today, you are faced with a challenge that is unique to this generation. You are raising children in an age of the internet, requiring parenting skills in uncharted territories unknown to previous generations.
Would you agree that the influence of the internet will increase more and more? As computer technology and mobile applications continue to expand into all areas of our daily lives, parents need to develop skills to parent our children effectively in this culture.
Here are three principles to guide us in raising our children in the age of the internet:
1. Use the internet as a valuable tool.
Many parents ask me, “How can I get my kids off the computer?” My response is, “Are you sure that’s what you really want to do?”
Do you think it is possible for our children not to use the internet? The computer is not going to go away, and our children will use the internet, mobile apps, and much more, whether we like it or not. You can be sure that when they go to college, our children will have unlimited access to the computer.
Rather than thinking of the computer as a necessary evil to contend with, we need to think of the internet as a useful tool, much like an automobile or a television. As with any tool, we give our children instructions on the proper ways to use it, what it should and should not be used for, and how to avoid dangers when using it. Our goals are to teach our children to maximize the best use of the computer and to use it properly.
When we clarify our parenting role in this way, we realize the extent of our responsibility. We are not merely a policeman enforcing a set of rules on our children. With our guidance, our children learn to apply moral values and use the computer responsibly.
2. Use the computer yourself.
I was very hesitant to get on the computer, but my son is the one who helped me overcome my fear: “You can’t break it mom!”
Using the computer may not come naturally to us but it is not too late to learn. We too, can enjoy the benefits of the internet. Through social networking sites such as the popular Facebook and Twitter, I’ve connected with relatives and friends living all over the world. Shopping online has saved me much time, as well as money.
As parents, we cannot afford to maintain a hands-off attitude about the computer. The more we use it ourselves, the better we are equipped to guide our children in their use.
3. Use the computer as a way to connect with our children.
The internet provides many opportunities for me to open communication with my children.
Here is one example: While my children are on the computer (the computer should always be in an open area, never in their rooms), I glance to see what websites they are browsing. Later I go onto those websites and click around, sign up for an account, just like my children would do. If it’s a game, play a few rounds and try to get a high score.
Then at dinner time or while driving in the car, I would open the conversation with a question such as, “Which do you like better, Petville or Farmville?” This allows me to share in my children’s interests and we have something in common. This also gives me an opening to talk about potential problems of spending too much time playing on the computer and the possible dangers involved.
When your children know that you are aware of what’s on the internet, they know they cannot hide things from you. Parents are not all that “stupid” after all!
You are probably thinking, “I don’t have the time or the desire to play games on the computer!” As I stated at the beginning, this is new territory for us as parents in the age of the internet. We cannot rely on internet filters or spyware to do our job as a parent. Parenting has always required us to get personally involved, pay close attention, and take the lead in guiding our children. We simply need to transfer that energy to computers and the world-wide-web, and be the leader, not the follower, in this arena.
Katy Lee is helping with the parenting ministry at Presence. There is much more to be said about parenting children in the age of the internet. If you would like Katy to speak on this subject or other parenting issues at your venue, please contact Presence. Visit Katy’s parenting website at www.AdventuresInParenting.org.заказ текстов для сайтаповедение клиентов