How to Deal With a Tech Savvy Child
February 7, 2018
By Suzann Prinsloo

Our kids today grow up in a world where almost any device can be connected to the Internet and/or each other. When you grew up, there were most probably no iPads, Facebook or Snapchat and your worries were confined to falling from trees or burning the house down and not whether your identity might be stolen or the possibility of a cyber bully attacking you and sending incriminating photos of you to all your friends. Today, you are responsible for raising a child whose life will revolve around digital technology and it becomes increasingly important to be able to raise tech-savvy and tech-safe individuals.

ABC News Australia, in their Science Week feature August 2017, provides some basic guidelines as to dealing with your tech-savvy child. Below is a brief summary of some of the critical points they highlight.

How much screen time is too much?

According to Australian expert, Dr. Joanne Orlando – an analyst and researcher in technology and learning – you should “think about screen time in terms of quality, not quantity”. Obviously high-quality, such as doing problem solving, or doing something creative and applying their knowledge in some way has a positive effect on the child whereas watching violent cartoons for an hour will not have.

Kids should not be on their devices all of the time and it is important to set aside times for them to “unplug” and make time for physical and play activities. But, it is ultimately up to you to decide what’s a healthy amount of screen time for your child.

Should my child be allowed to have their own social media account?

The age limit for most social media accounts is 13. Most children start asking for their own social media accounts around the age of 10. The benefit of them asking, is that you can consider opening a joint social media account that you can both use. This means that you can go through the entire process with your child. Together you can choose the privacy settings and talk about etiquette when using social media. It is an excellent opportunity to explain to your child that their account should not be used as a popularity contest – if you’re not friends offline, why do you need to be friends online? It is the ideal opportunity to explain to your child that what they see on social media isn’t necessarily a true reflection of reality.

Become a tech-savvy parent

While it may be true that you will never know as much as about technology as your tech-savvy child, it is still important that you become tech-savvy in order to know what your child is referring to. Let them feel comfortable in explaining to you how to take Snapchat picture or talk about the new friends they’ve made on Facebook. Simply saying no or avoiding technology because you don’t know how to use it, will not encourage conversation and allow your child to thrive. suggest these 5 tips:

  • Follow blogs – find a blog on parenting by searching “blog parent technology”. Choose the one you like and bookmark it. This way you’ll easily stay up to date and in touch.
  • Google better – instead of searching the game title of your child’s favourite game, try typing “parent guide” along with the title of the game. This way you won’t see the copious amount of reviews by gamers.
  • Read a book – many books out there will already be outdated by the time you buy it, given the speed at which technology develops. Future-proof your child: Parenting the wired generation by Nikki Bush and Graeme Codrington, highlights the critical importance of making choices, having conversations and consciously connecting with tomorrow’s children today.
  • Join a group – why not use technology to find out more about technology? If you are already on Facebook, find a group or group of parents that focus on parenting and tech.
  • Ask your kids – we might think that our kids expect us to have all of the answers, well, when it comes to tech, they don’t! And they are more than willing to share what they know.

It is important to realise – and to have your kids realise, that in a tech-driven world, success in life doesn’t come from professional skills alone. It requires a solid foundation built on ethics, integrity and responsibility.

The above is an adaptation from mainly two articles. Visit ABC News to read their full article on Expert tips for how to raise tech savvy kids and Parenting Digital for a variety of digital tips for parents.