Reprinted with permission from Protect Young Eyes, a leading digital parent education website. Original post can be found here.
Many kids are going to be “stuck” at home in front of screens a bit more than usual as a result of COVID-19. Here are a few basic reminders for parents and caring adults:
[Click here to watch a FB Live version of the points below]
(2) Avoid the Toxic Trio – based on our research, 3 things contribute to good kids (and good adults) making bad digital choices – boredom, bedrooms, darkness. When those 3 are present, whether you’re 14 or 40, a lot of bad stuff seems good. Combat that with keeping devices out of bedrooms (you, too, parents!), and controlling WiFi and data access after 9:30pm.
(3) You voice beats any parental controls – sit your kids down with love and care and talk to them about what specific concerns you have. Porn. Screen time. Bedrooms. TALK ABOUT IT! Calmly. Intentionally. Let them help you make the digital rules. If they participate in the solution, they’re always more likely to comply with the solution.
(4) Let them make stuff up – yes, that’s right. No screens every once in a while. That means you, too! Boredom is necessary for social-emotional well-being. Children must learn how to “be” with their thoughts and do nothing – which leads to something. Do you kids have resting notion of who they are? Go outside and be playful. Like kicking a rock down the sidewalk. Their imaginations will not come alive when the attention-greedy glowing screen is hogging the grey matter that could otherwise be plotting to take over the world. In their head.
I met with a principal of a large charter school in my home town this week, and he tells me the same thing each time we get together – today’s K-2 children are just different. They don’t know how to “do” school. Sit in desks. Hold a pencil. Focus on the teacher. He finds that his biggest job is training parents. According to a family therapist friend, the very presence of a smart device within reach of you impairs your ability to be in an authentic, rich connection with the humans around you. Lock it up!
(5) Do online stuff TOGETHER – we tell parents to be insanely curious about how their kids use technology and now’s a great time to head to the world-wide web with them. Check out this site from John Hopkins Institute. Do they notice anything? Which countries still don’t have any cases? Or, maybe you play some Super Smash Brothers with them tonight (that’s one of my favorite boy/dad times).
COVID-19 is causing significant disruptions in all of our lives. While we’re taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we hope these tips will not only prevent online harm, but also build a stronger bridge of digital trust between you and your kids! After all, eventually, something unfortunate will happen online. And when it does, I want you to be their default search engine.
P.S. Here’s an AMAZING COVID-19 daily schedule – a way to keep some discipline during the chaos: https://www.instagram.com/p/B9sc4HPnAit/