Children & Technology: Parenting Tips for the Digital Age

You may be interested in your child’s IQ but what about their DQ?  What’s their level of digital intelligence?  Decades ago, parents helped children prepare for school with at-home reading and arithmetic.  Today’s parents have an added concern – their child’s ability to enter and engage the digital age.  Here is a list of points to go over with your child so they’re well prepared for the digital age.

Use

To start, your child will begin learning how to log-on to the computer, use search engines, and interact with websites.  This involves knowing the basics such as how to use a search engine and how to type.  Beyond the basics, knowing advanced features will help children research for school and compose better reports.

Safety

There is a lot of connection between the on and offline world.  This means you must teach your child about avoiding specific content related to sex, drugs, hate, radicalism, etc.  Moreover, kids may join social networks, which makes them susceptible to cyber bullying.  Teach your kids about avoiding online confrontation just as you would talk to them about properly engaging people offline.

Reputation

It may seem absurd that a child needs to worry about their online reputation, but as mentioned, what happens online has repercussions in reality.  As one can glean from Twitter or YouTube comments, some don’t think before they type, which could irreversibly affect relationships, job opportunities, present employment, etc.  While your child may not need to worry about immediate employment opportunities, it’s important that they understand they will be judged on their online actions.

Digital Literacy

The standards of literacy have also evolved in the digital age, to the point that digital literacy will now be an essential skill. Not only will the workforce demand digital literacy, but social encounters will increasingly become intertwined with the device we use. Learning skills like coding and typing will give kids the edge in the workforce and in social life. Learning these such skills need not be a chore. Sites like Typisto make it fun to practice and improve typing skills. Kids can have fun learning to code with sites like CodeCombat, a virtual game environment where you need to deploy the right code to make it to the next level. What better way to learn a skill than to enjoy doing so!

Emotion

Emotional intelligence is another asset essential to a child entering the digital age.  They should understand the limitations of communicating online (in some cases, you cannot see one’s expressions or hear one’s tone.)  Also, just as children should be aware of avoiding online bullying, they should understand why it’s wrong and to be empathetic toward others online.

Devices

Decades ago, it would be rare to see a child holding anything more expensive than a new toy.  Today, kids are not playing with toys; they’re using full-fledged (and expensive) gadgets.  Frankly, some kids are too immature to use expensive laptops and tablets.  Until children learn to respect devices, they postpone their ability to engage the digital age.

Security

While kids may not have their own credit cards, in some situations, they may be using those of parents and guardians.  While it’s very easy to get to a website’s checkout, it’s equally as easy for a hacker to get vital information.  Educate children about online security and personality theft.

About the guest author: Nicola Cartwright has two school-aged kids and works as a careers consultant. She writes about developing new skills in order to gain your dream job, whether a student or someone already established on the career ladder.