Helping Our Kids Navigate Digital Life

Having grown up in the pre-internet era, the ramifications of my son growing up in the digital age challenge me.  Protecting our children’s digital lives is an important concern for proactive parents.  Today, many kids place more importance on having their own phone or computer over having a car.  In fact, our children’s digital access starts much younger today than the age many of us dreamed of getting our learner’s permit.

Safeguarding our kids can be a big task in the digital world.  Our children are vulnerable to predators, cyber bullies, viewing inappropriate sites, violence via online gaming, downloading malware, posting harmful material to social media, and much more.  Fortunately, there are many resources to help with this task.  These resources include software, kid safe browsers, and online digital experts.  I am an ardent fan of Kim Komando.  Ms. Komando has hosted a syndicated radio show talking about all things digital for nearly 20 years.  On her website, she features a page with tips to help parents.

I, especially, like her 10 Commandments For Kids Online .

When I was growing up, my parents and I had an agreement about responsible use of our family car.  Like my driving agreement, Ms. Komando’s commandments help parents maintain their kids’ responsible use of digital devices by establishing usage rules.  Of course, having an agreement with our kids is one thing and enforcing the commandments is another issue.  Just like any other house rules, it requires constant vigilance and periodic checking by parents to insure our little ones are following the rules.  If a violation is found, predetermined consequences should kick in.  Having predetermined consequences make it easier for us and our kids.  It permits the kids to know ahead of the time the “cost” of violating rules.  For parents, we can determine, without the emotion of the minute, the price for violating the agreement.  It also permits for a more timely enforcement such as immediate suspension of phone or computer access without needing to check in with the other parent.

Like most parenting activities, protecting our kids’ digital lives is important.  Having house rules setup, such as the Komando 10 Commandments, establishes the boundaries for our kid’s healthy use of digital devices.  Our kids depend upon us to help them learn to navigate the digital world safely and responsibly.  Let us do our part to help them.

Stay tuned for next week’s posting on saving for college vs. saving for retirement.

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