They are the digital natives, children born who do not remember a time before the internet, video games and video chats with the grandparents.
For these young explorers, who often can operate a tablet before they learn to walk or talk, their reality growing up in the 21st century and competing with the world, now just a click away, will look much different than past generations.
As parents we have the responsibility to establish a safe relationship with technology. When we make a conscious effort to model technology use, we are teaching children by example. Making a conscious effort to put your phone away during conversations with your child, establishing eye contact and being present during a conversation models the importance of mindfulness and human connection. I learned that principle, when my 7-year-old daughter Valerie asked me the reason I was checking my social media when talking to a relative on the phone that enjoys really long conversations. Suddenly, I realized the impact of my actions.
Second, I am a firm believer of engaging children in the process of establishing household rules. Start by providing some examples of rules for technology use that you consider essential such as “not to use technology during family meal time”. Then involve the children in creating other rules with you, and write them in their language. Keep the list simple, post it in a place that children can see it and discuss the consequences of not following the rules. Discuss each rule individually, ask for examples and discuss how other people feel when we break the rules to illustrate the point.
The strategies of modeling technology use and engaging children in the process of creating the rules allows you to promote critical skills and introduce social skills at a young age.