Your Child and Technology
There is one thing for which the parents of today cannot follow the lead of their own parents: how to integrate technology in the upbringing of their children. A tablet may keep a Child occupied for long hours, but should he or she not also engage in other activities? The internet offers many great resources for children, but how do we protect them from bad or harmful content? It is easy to observe what children watch on the TV in the living room, but how to monitor what they are exposed to on a phone or tablet?
Here are a few tips that can help parents to balance their approach:
1. Tech and time
Set time limits or fixed periods for activities on screen. This is especially important for children who tend to spend all their free time on a device, at the expense of physical exercise or playing with others. Tech devices are typically designed for individual use and do not require much physical effort. For holistic development, children need social interaction and physical movement, so there needs to be a balance.
(This is not unlike yesteryear’s parents who chased us away from the telly and told us to go and play outdoors.)
For younger children who do not yet get school assignments that require research on the net, provide a device without an internet connection. That makes it easier to control content and reduces the need for supervision.
3. Online resources
The internet is a great alternative to the community library and your Child should benefit from it.
- There are many websites with interactive reading and maths exercises. This can benefit children who need more or different practice to keep up with the class curriculum.
- Stories for reading-together-time
- Project work: information on topics that children need or want to know more about; for example nature or history.
As your Child grows older, you can teach them how to use a search engine and how to distinguish between good and bad content. Use filters and a child-friendly browser to enable your Child to gradually start surfing on their own.
4. Cultural identity and foreign content
Sadly, there is still very little home-grown content from Ghana on the net. Ghanaian children are much exposed to images, vocabulary and concepts that do not connect with their culture and living environment. Actively search for local resources to help develop your Child’s cultural identity and pride.
5. Talk talk talk
Be closely involved with your Child’s online life and build rapport and trust for your Child to confide in you. Do things together online and allow your Child to learn from you. Answer questions and point out dos and don’ts as you go.
A few practical tips:
- Set your own phone number as password on the device your Child uses. In emergency situations they will know it by heart!
- Talk to your Child’s school or PTA about including lessons on responsible use of social media and the internet in the school curriculum.
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