Supervision, Not Snoopervision

Show Genuine Interest in your Child’s Online Presence
It’s important that parents embrace their children’s world, and as part of that, it is imperative to actually sit down and take note of what their children are doing online. Parents should recognize that their children’s time online, socializing and playing, is not simply a frivolous activity, but a constructive one where friendships are being strengthened/tested, and one where children have the opportunity to express themselves in creative ways. If parents show interest and enthusiasm towards their child’s digital world, their children will be much less reserved in sharing it with their families.

‘Safe and Smart’ Behaviour
It’s important that in the beginning parents ask to see their child’s online activity. Children will no doubt be proud to show you all their favourite sites, online communities, etc. Let your child know you will be sitting down with them once a week or once a month to let your child show you what they are doing. Ensuring that they know you have their best interests at heart (making sure they are being ‘safe and smart’) is important to keep this a positive experience.

Decrease Monitoring Over Time
Younger children will be more receptive to this, but teens may have problems with this relationship, especially if you are starting this after they are have been establishing a digital presence for some time. It’s important that they feel that they can be trusted, so after establishing a relationship where you look at their online presence once a week, it’s important you let them know that provided that what you see is ‘safe and smart’ behaviour, you will gradually decrease monitoring once you feel comfortable and confident in their children.

Online/Offline 
A good rule of thumb is to keep online/offline activity at a 50%/50% ratio. Take a look at the brain balancing activities on this site to help provide structure to offline activities that can incorporate the entire family.

Nighttime
Set night time limits on technology, and remember to keep all electronic devices out of your child’s bedroom. The urge to use such devices is just too strong, and children will inevitably stay up too late, and won’t be well rested for school, making your children irritable and unfocused. It’s better to set a clear time of then to turn off all electronic devices, and to ensure there is a ‘charging station’ in your house that is far away from your children’s rooms.

Source material compiled from:
Ives, E. A. iGeneration: The Social Cognitive Effects of Digital Technology on Teenagers

Photo credit: CC by Kassy