• The Internet is an amazing resource for information and entertainment. Today, children learn how to use computers, the Internet, and other technology devices before they even enter kindergarten. With the proper knowledge and some general guidelines, parents can be active, positive participants in their children’s use of the Internet for educational pursuits or entertainment.

     

    1.    Establish rules: In order to protect your child and to help him or her live a healthy lifestyle set some general guidelines for technology use in your home. Of course age, maturity, and level of responsibility will affect the rules you set, but here are a few ideas to get started.

     

    Set a time limit for device usage– For example, no more than 30 minutes to one hour of screen time a day or tell your child a time frame (6pm – 7pm) of when he or she can use the computer, laptop, tablet, etc.

     

    Set physical boundaries – For example, no accessing high-tech devices in private areas of the home. Keep usage to the times you have set and to common gathering spots like the living room. Your child needs to understand that what he or she does on the computer is not private. As the parent, you have the right to check the browser history or to "friend" the child on Facebook, follow him/her on Twitter, and know who your child’s friends are when online. Also, don’t allow play on apps or video games without spending an equal amount of time devoted to other pursuits — reading, playing a sport, riding a bike, etc.

     

    Set aside time for conversation –For example, talk with your child and other care givers about how access will be given only to age-appropriate content or downloads, and that all software must be approved by both parents or guardians. Conversation can occur either during playtime, during dinner, or at bedtime regarding high-tech experiences and interactions, even if just to discuss the adventures had so that you as a parent can stay
    involved in your child’s activities. This also provides the time to give your child advice or safety tips.

     

    2.   Be involved: If your child is using a device, program, or website you aren't familiar with, have them show you how it works.Children love teaching their parents how to do things and technology is great way to make this happen! Mastery isn't the goal, just ask your child how he or she uses the device and then take notes.

     

    3.    Get excited: Parents can overcome their own digital insecurities by talking to other parents and engaging with their child's teachers. Send the teachers a quick E-mail and ask how they use technology in their classrooms—you might be surprised by what you hear back. Some teachers maintain class websites and blog about what the students learned in school that day. When in doubt about something, Google it! Google also has a multitude of tutorial videos to bring parents up to speed on everything from screensavers to video chats.

     

    Parents are the ultimate teachers and role models to their children. Help your child understand that what is put online becomes public. Anything your child says or posts can be retrieved or re-posted in ways they may not want it repeated. For more information about this, please visit the section about “Netiquette.” If you are interested on more information about parenting and technology, here are some other online references that you may find helpful:

     

    Common Sense Media: http://www.theonlinemom.com

    The Online Mom – Tech Tools for Parents:   http://www.commonsensemedia.org/

    The Tween Teacher : http://www.tweenteacher.com