With an average preschooler more capable of playing video games than tying shoelaces, and with over three-quarters of mid-school and high school kids proudly owning Smartphones, it is extremely difficult to answer the ever rising question of ‘What is the right age to introduce kids to technology?’.
The present age kids pick up things so fast on their own that the parents feel helpless in delaying their kids’ exposure to technology.
With the number of children using the internet increased by 24% in the past three years and 87% of the online population representing teens between 12-17 years of age over-sharing their private information online, families aren’t able to limit the kids to books and TV any longer. Moreover, with the growing cyber issues like cyberbaiting, sexting and cyberbullying, parents clearly face a unique set of 21st century challenges.
When the question of ‘What is being done to prepare kids for living in an age of 24×7 digital connectivity’ comes, the responsibility tends to shift shoulders from the teachers to parents and vice versa. More than 70% of the parents believe that the schools are doing their part in educating the kids about digital safety. About four-fifth teachers believe that such in-school cyber safety programs are necessary for grooming the children, but everything cannot be done without the parents’ support.
With both, parents and teachers, holding the opposite party responsible for giving proper tech knowledge to children and protecting them in this rampant digital world, there is absolutely no one to guide the young folks through this evil digital age. Moreover, even the elders aren’t enough digitally educated to show the correct path to the children.
Parents – The Key Role Players
No matter how technically advanced the world becomes, parents always had and will always have a huge role to play in the process of educating their children. Though the parents need to catch up with the children, given the speed at which today’s technology is advancing, it is only in their hands to protect the kids from walking on the wrong path. The parents need to involve themselves in their child’s usage of technology and make a unified effort at the earliest possible to keep them safe online.
Need of Combined Effort
Laying the complete responsibility of inculcating digital citizenship at the parents’ feet would be a complete mistake. Though they are the key players, they also need to be guided regarding what’s going on in the digital age. Cyber education should be an integral part of the ongoing education process, considering that even toddlers are now more comfortable with tech devices, as parents aren’t always completely aware of the evolving tech platforms and the new ethical codes.
How to Make Kids Tech-Proof?
Parents are the prime force in inculcating and maintaining proper childhood safety practices as far as the use of technology is considered. They can always get more and more involved in their children’s online life and watch their step. Just like the kids won’t be allowed to swim or walk across the highway alone, they shouldn’t be allowed to interact with the technology on their own.
Having the tech devices in the common room, spending some time with children online and using cyber protection tools can help restrict the use and monitor their cyber activity. Parents can also enroll themselves in training programs to learn more about digital technology and ethics, and become aware of potential threats, to educate their children about the dangers of too much digitalization or socializing.
With technology ensconcing in day-to-day lives, parents can no longer afford to ignore its impact on kids. Though it has a boundless potential to improve a kid’s life, leaving children alone and unprepared to navigate around its pitfalls just doesn’t add up.
Jimmy Sorensen is a camp instructor, freelance writer and father to two techie kids. In his free time he writes about kid’s activities and tech learning at iD Tech Camps. You can also find him on Twitter @jimmy_sorensen