It’s happening at younger and younger ages. More very young kids are getting smartphones with instant, unfettered access to the entire digital world. Unfortunately, while there is a wealth of useful information on the web, there also exists a terrifying number of real dangers.
I’ve often compared the internet to the largest, most dangerous city in the world. At what age would we allow our children to walk alone through that city with or without any other safeguards? For this reason, we ought to think twice (and then maybe, twice more) about putting an internet enabled device in a child’s hand and turning them loose.
We don’t want to be ‘helicopters’ but between kids being lured into horrific online challenges, the sexual images, the social media pressures and the flat-out predators, there is PLENTY to rescue kids from! We will probably never regret erring on the side of protecting kids from the many dangerous forces lurking on the net.
An important factor we can control is how we talk with kids and prepare them to become good decision-makers about the digital world. A healthy relationship in which we communicate openly about expectations and about real cause and effect will go a long way toward keeping kids safe when we are not around.
Love and Logic helps adults set limits they can enforce and that they can live with.
A Magical phrase we love is:
“We allow devices in the home as long as they don’t interfere with us having a loving and respectful family.”
This limit is open-ended enough for discussions to occur. If kids are spending all their time texting and on social media instead of interacting with the family, is that interfering with the family? You bet and it is time to take action and remove the device or access to service for a time.
Many parents threaten to take these things when they become a problem but never really do it. Simply following through with this limit you set will make you more effective than most adults.
You can learn more about getting these discussions started and how to set great examples and limits in the handy book: Technology and Kids.