5 Ways to Help Your Kids Use Tech Better
Screen time isn’t just a problem for toddlers and preschoolers. As screen time matures into high school and college, parents’ overall smarts about how to use technology and social media start to decline. According to a recent survey by DC leadership consulting firm. Pemberton, 51 percent of CEOs believe their children are better than average at using social media sites (compared to just 33 percent of American teens), and just 14 percent of CEOs think their kids are better than average at navigating the Internet. In fact, CEOs are less likely to believe their kids use social media well when their kids’ friends are better than average.
It would appear that both CEO and parent narcissism contribute to the problem. But children are far more in-tune with social media than either parent. Several studies have found that children as young as 2 or 3 know more about technology than their parents — both online and off. Children are much more interested in the program information displayed on a screen (along with an interesting fact) than they are in a parent’s prose (the equivalent of having your entire vocabulary read out loud).
What can parents do to make sure their kids grow up to be better social media and technology savvy than they are? We aren’t suggesting that parents immediately take their kids off the Internet or stop using social media sites altogether, but we’re suggesting that they create a few best practices for when their kids are ready to use social media.
1. Allow kids to make up their own social media sites. Most parents are shocked to learn that their kids create social media accounts for themselves (not wanting to challenge their kids with how to use a proper password or correct for pictures). By allowing your child to create his or her own account — and assuming there are controls for age and privacy settings — your child has unfettered access to the social media site’s content. This frees up the parent to focus more on interaction rather than direct access.
2. Express responsibility. A strong, involved role model on social media benefits kids, too. Avoiding content that’s negative will ensure your child doesn’t make mistakes that will affect the rest of his or her life.
3. Recognize that teenagers will be teenagers. Your teen will make mistakes that you’re willing to see. It’s essential that you make sure your kid knows that when there are consequences, you’ll be upfront with him or her — for example, telling them they’re not allowed to post messages that show poor judgment, they’re only allowed to use their cell phones while in class, or they’re not allowed to post from places they shouldn’t, or that parents will use search terms to see what their kids are saying about them.
4. Recognize that teenagers will be teenagers. That said, they are 21st century social media users and you have the most influence on them. The point is that they don’t know what’s appropriate for them and you can help them understand the importance of setting appropriate social media policies, using good judgment, or otherwise better understanding what’s appropriate for them in digital contexts.
5. Provide consistent instruction and praise. As more teenagers enjoy online media, the praise they receive decreases when they express good behavior, since peer acceptance is higher. Kids love the compliments from you, and that’s why being consistent in your praise makes a big difference.
Kids will adapt to tech in the ways their parents expect. Learn the social media and technology dos and don’ts, and your child will learn faster than they will on their own.
This article originally appeared on Success.com.