As we wrap up the holiday season, I am guessing there is a good chance children may have received some kind of tech or electronic gift. Whether the gift be a tablet, cell phone, TV or gaming device parents need to be mindful about how much time and where children will be using these items. In addition, it would be good to monitor the use of these devices as well. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) posted an article last year about the importance of having Family Media Plans.
Have you been monitoring what your child is engaging in on the computer?
Have you had the conversation about what is appropriate for them to do on their electronic devices? Have you taught them about online safety and about cyberbullying? The internet is an amazing tool that we use daily to connect socially, to research and for entertainment purposes. Children's brains are not developed enough to guarantee they will always make good decisions when left to their own devices. They may simply be inquisitive and curious, but as parents we need to be mindful that the content they are viewing is appropriate for their age and maturity level.
There are many social networking sites out there where people can connect with people they know and people they don't. If your child is on a social networking site, it would be appropriate for you, as their parent, to have full access to the content that they post as well as what their friends are posting. One way is to "friend" them so you can visit their page but if they are smart enough they can keep you from seeing many things. It is very important to explain that once something is posted digitally for someone else to see, it leaves a digital footprint. It is not acceptable to post, send or forward any kind of picture that is revealing sexually or any kind of picture with people without clothing. Developmentally, teenagers are quite impulsive and less likely to process the possible consequences. We need to protect our children from themselves as well as from strangers lurking online to "connect."
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