Summer is the time when many digital children start using e-mail accounts — and often the laid back summer lifestyle means that parents spend less time helping their children develop strong and collaborative digital habits.
Last year’s post offers parents some ideas and suggestions for getting started and setting limits.
Hundreds of digital options — e-mail is only one of them — are available and waiting for your child to discover them, so in the final analysis you cannot prevent digital access. You can, however, make decisions help you focus on educating your child about digital citizenship.
Recently I read Tracy Grant’s article, The Case for Spying on Your Kids, in the October 5, 2011Washington Post, and it’s well worth reading. Grant believes that parents should keep close track of their children’s online activities. After I finished the article I decided it’s unfortunate that so many people equate keeping an eye on a child’s digital activities with spying. It’s not spying.
From my perspective, it’s just fine for parents to closely supervise the digital activities of kids, just like parents supervise non-digital endeavors. Understanding what’s going on, setting limits, teaching children to follow website rules, and defining expectations — as children encounter more and smaller personal computers and digital gadgets — are important responsibilities. Knowing what’s going on is a part of parenting.
Yet learning about what’s going on takes time, a scarce resource for many adults, and the situation gets even more complicated because the digital skills of many children outpace their parents.
In Grant’s article Balkam points out, “The history button on a computer is a very important tool for parents.”
The digital world offers many opportunities to help children learn, collaborate, and grow as digital citizens, and we want our children to become literate and savvy consumers of online resources. Strong digital parenting — even when a parent is in awe of a child’s online prowess — is one of the ways to ensure that children grow into confident, respectful, and competent learners.