How to Create an Island for Family in a Digital World

Steiner school kids

Parents who send their kids to Steiner schools know that smart phones make kids dumb. There are other options for keeping kids in contact and safe. 

The digital world can be a complicated place. While there are positives, there are also negatives that could impact your family’s mental and physical activity. A good way to keep your family safe online is by creating an island. No, not an actual island, of course. But a safe place for your family to exist online. To create this island, you need to integrate the right tools, set clear rules, and keep yourself and your family educated. Here are a few tips to help: 

1. Choose The Right Device

The first step to making tech safe for your children is to choose the right device. While this might seem simple, with so many different gadgets available, it can be hard to choose. Sure, you want your kids to have fun with technology. But, most importantly, you want to keep them safe. 

Thankfully, there are gadgets designed specifically with children in mind. Whether you want a safe phone for kids or a kids smart watch, you can find the perfect device for your child. Unlike some gadgets that come with access to the internet, kid-friendly devices don’t usually have this feature. 

In Turkey there is a village that uses bird calls instead of smart phones.

They also don’t come with access to social media, games, or certain types of messaging. This means you won’t have to worry about your child spending too much time on social media or reaching out to strangers. Opting for children-friendly devices can help your kids learn about technology, without giving them too much power. 

2. Do Your Research

Chances are, there are things you don’t know about the digital world. You’re not alone, especially considering how quickly trends evolve and disappear. With that said, one of the first things you should do is educate yourself. After all, the only way to keep your kids safe online is to know what’s out there. 

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Have your children mentioned any popular games or apps? If so, download them and spend some time using each one. Not only should you try these apps out yourself, but search them online as well. There’s a lot of information online that you might not notice in real-time. For example, you might not realize that Snapchat has a feature that lets people see users’ locations. While you can turn this feature off, it’s not something you’d know to do without being aware. 

The more research you do, the more informed your decisions will be. You’ll also probably feel better about your kids using certain apps after spending time on them yourself. 

3. Create A Tech Contract

To keep your family safe, it’s important to set up some tech rules and guidelines (aka a tech contract). This contract should be unique to your family, based on each of your schedules and interests. For instance, if your daughter doesn’t watch television, your tech contract probably doesn’t need to focus on that type of device.

If there are any apps you don’t want your kids to use, make sure that’s stated on the contract. You also want to set expectations for how and when your kids can use their devices. For example, maybe technology is banned from the dinner table or on weeknights. Whatever rules you decide on, clearly write them on the contract. 

You should also come up with consequences for anyone who breaches a rule on the tech contract. Let’s say your contract states phones aren’t allowed to be used after 8:00 p.m. If your child ignores that rule, a consequence might be taking their phone away for a whole day.

4. Use Parental Controls

According to research, almost 40% of parents say they use parental controls to monitor their teen’s online activities. Parental controls are a great way to protect your children. You can use these tools to keep your kids from spending too much time on technology by setting time restraints. Parental controls also can prohibit them from visiting inappropriate sites.

There are several options available when it comes to parental controls. You could download software, like Norton Family, or an app like Bark. With both, you can customize your child’s online experience. From setting time restraints to blocking certain websites, you can manage what your kids have access to and for how long. Again, these are only two of the many options available. 

It’s also worth mentioning that you don’t have to download anything if you don’t want to. Most devices come with free built-in parental controls you can set up directly on your child’s phone. 

5. Have Tough Conversations

Monitoring your child’s online activity is important. But the truth is, you can’t monitor them forever. Your children will eventually grow up and have more online exposure. That’s why it’s important to also teach your kids how to be safe online. 

To start, have a conversation with your child about technology. Talk about the benefits as well as the negatives. Make sure your kids know about cyberbullying, tech addiction, and the influence social media can have on mental health. 

It’s no secret that social media can be damaging. Excessive social media use has been linked to depression, anxiety, and a host of other issues. One reason is that social media causes people to make comparisons. Even if done unintentionally, it’s all too easy to compare your life to the perfect pictures online. It’s crucial your kids have the tools to understand the difference between what’s real and what’s posted online.

Technology can be a great resource, but it can also contribute to serious issues. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to create a safe place for your children. Tech use can introduce new threats and dangers, but you can create a safe space using these tips. Teach your children how to responsibly use technology, and the advantages of the digital world should outweigh the consequences.

 

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