I’m delighted to publish this guest post from US-based online safety advocate Amy Williams. Amy is no stranger to Dadbloguk having penned this post a few months ago. In this post Amy provides suggestions for keeping the family safe online while also using technology to strengthen family ties.
Today’s children and adults are exposed to a variety of technologies and devices that have created a new set of unforeseen problems. Everyday the headlines cry out at us about cyberbullying, sexual predators, trolling, and other hidden risks that our technology poses to our families. To compound these issues, recent studies are beginning to unravel how our love of technology has the power to derail our family units by interfering with child development and even changing the way our brains’ function.
This is concerning for parents, because we ultimately want the best for our loved ones. As frightening as the potential dangers are, we need to examine technology’s positive side. If used correctly, technology has the power to bring a family together in amazing ways.
Using Technology To Strengthen Family Ties
Juggling careers, family schedules, extracurricular events, and raising children can find many parents short on time. According to the PEW Research Center, 91 percent of today’s parents are logging onto the Internet and signing up for social media at elevated rates. While we can speculate at the reasoning behind this jump, it’s fairly easy to acknowledge that our devices and computers offer connectivity and knowledge with a swipe of a finger.
Even though technology has distracted many parents and family members, with a little intentional focus and planning we have the ability to effortlessly strengthen our relationships. The convenience of handheld devices, evolving social media, and user friendly apps offers us the ability to embrace authentic communication while organizing our hectic schedules.
The DO’s And DON’Ts For Family Bonding With Technology
DO take advantage of apps or software geared to saving time and money. There is an app for everything these days, take advantage of the ones that streamline daily activities like paying bills or managing the family calendar. Take advantage of bloggers who create shopping lists and recipes for family dinners. A little planning can save a lot of take-away dinners from the Fish’n’Chip Shop while allowing for family meals. And don’t forget about how easy it is to text updates on a teen’s whereabouts or ask for a ride home. Make technology work for the family!
DO read the fine print and age guidelines before allowing young family members the privilege of owning or using technology. Unfortunately, apps are not one size fits all and there are minimum age requirements for all social media sites. By following the simple recommendations, we can help reduce our children’s exposure to harmful scenarios and potentially save them from some scary health problems like radiation exposure and stressed joints down the road.
DON’T allow cell phones and other devices in bedrooms, lavatories, or during tea. By keeping technology in common living areas parents can reduce the chances for inappropriate online activities like sexting or cyberbullying. This will also provide our kids with safe places to unplug from constant updates. messaging, and the electronic glare of their devices.
DO take the time to introduce senior family members to technology. Take a few minutes and help our grandparents and older family become familiar with the new methods of communication to help bridge the technology and generation gap. Learning how to video chat, text, or use social media has the potential to increase communication and encourage daily interactions.
DON’T stress about schoolwork. The Internet is a wonderful resource for parents and children to help learn new concepts or understand tricky assignments. A simple search can yield a wealth of knowledge to help overcome dicey fractions or Briton history. Look for games, apps, lesson tutorials, study guides, and mnemonic devices to master school subjects.
DO create a contract with the family outlining the rules for technology use. It sounds tedious, but this step has the potential to prevent a lot of fights and disagreements about appropriate conduct on and offline. Be sure to keep everyone on the same page and be clear about consequences and expectations in regards to cell phones, social media, gaming systems, and more.
DON’T wait to teach young children social media etiquette. Start this conversation early and expand as a child grows. It was found that most three year olds begin using the Internet which makes it important to arm kids with appropriate tools to protect themselves online.
DO monitor a child’s or teen’s online activity. It is estimated that 70 percent of our children take measures to hide their online interactions from the adults in their life. With cyberbullying rates tripling and sexting being considered normal, take the time to know what a child is doing online and who they are interacting with.
Technology, whether we want to admit it, does have the ability to enrich our family life. We do need to challenge ourselves to embrace the opportunities cell phones, tablets, and the Internet offers our family members: old and new! With a balanced approach and proactive planning, our devices don’t have to be the bad guy.
What is one thing you will do to keep you family together using technology?