With its wide sphere of applicability, digital media occupies a pivotal role in everyday life. It is not merely a knowledge tool but a source that offers immense scope for entertainment and communication. However, improper use of technology poses certain threats that appear to be more pronounced in the case of children.
Threats that accompany the use of digital technology may manifest in the following ways:
- Behavioural: Extended screen time is not only a health hazard but may also lead to online addiction. Screen time includes watching TV, browsing on a computer or playing video games. Children may take less interest in other creative and outdoor activities and may spend hours in front of the screen.
- Content: Children are vulnerable and may find themselves exposed to unsafe content. Such content could have an adverse effect on their thinking process.
- Social Networking: Children may end up sharing personal information with friends online. They may also be subjected to cyberbullying.
These risks have created a conflict in parents’ minds. They often find themselves caught in the struggle to control screen time and prevent children from being exposed to its risks. To draw the line between ‘what’ and ‘how much’ is good or bad is a tough task for parents. To ensure that technology has a constructive role in the developmental process has become a challenging responsibility. These fears around the detrimental consequences of technology have given rise to differing opinions on controlling and regulating screen time.
However, an important question emerges from this – will restricting the use of digital technology really help?
As indicated by several studies, parents should stop worrying about screen time and focus more on what is being accessed. The most ideal path is to allow a child to explore the entire horizon of knowledge and gather the best. Imposing extreme control over anything will do more harm than good. And in a world governed by technology, we cannot expect our children to stay completely off the screen. It will restrict them from experiencing technology’s positive benefits. The better approach is to strike a balance and encourage them to make the best use of technology as a resource for learning.
Parents may employ the following methods to ensure internet safety:
- Technical tools: E-safety solutions, such as monitoring software, offer a method of tracking content that is being accessed. Using the parental controls on supplier Wi-Fi/satellite/cable may also help to prevent certain access. Such techniques will keep parents informed and will also help to educate and train the child to develop resilience against online threat.
- Dialogue about online risks: Parents need to have regular sessions of dialogue with the child about the benefits and harmful effects of technology. Such discussions will equip children with a better sense of judgement between what is good and bad. It will also encourage them to share problematic experiences with parents.
- Supervising: As digitally literate parents, it is our duty to direct children in assimilating knowledge from the best sources. Parents need to ensure that children are viewing content that will have a productive role in their development.
- Setting rules: It is a good practice to set usage rules for children. See article on Setting Boundaries that Work.
Adopting a combination of the above approaches may help parents deal effectively with any risks their children encounter. A well structured strategy with emphasis on the quality of content accessed will ensure a safer online experience. To know more about e-safety, connect with us on LinkedIn today.