6 Parenting Skills That Weren’t Needed Before the Internet
Between Snapchat discussions, screen time debates, and the latest tech devices that enter your house, you’ve probably caught yourself wondering if raising kids has always been this challenging. The short answer is no! Some of the issues we’re facing today simply didn’t exist for our parents and grandparents. But that’s okay — it just means that the parenting skills needed to help bring up happy and healthy kids have changed, too. In this post, we’ll explain what they are so you can put your experience into perspective. You’ve most likely already got a lot of these important skills and don’t even realize it!
6 Essential Parenting Skills for the Digital Age
Take Time to Learn About New Technology As It Comes Out
Technology is always changing, but for older generations, the stakes weren’t quite as high. Parents could afford to not pay as close attention to how the original 8-bit Nintendo worked or why Tamagotchis were so popular. That’s because these popular gadgets were just toys. Today, however, so much of our new technology comes with the ability to communicate with others — and that means danger. New games have chat features, phones come with built-in apps, and even living room staples like TVs can access the internet. For modern parents, it’s important to research the new technology your kids bring home so you can help keep them safe while they use it.
Acknowledge the Power and Influence of Social Media
No matter what your family’s values are concerning social media, understanding why and how it’s so popular can help you relate to your child and many of the issues they deal with as they grow up. And whether or not you choose to grant access to apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok, your kids are still going to be affected by them. Having social media can create dangers for kids like cyberbullying, exposure to sexual content, and online predation. But not having social media can also cause issues like being left out at school, in-person bullying, and teasing. It’s up to you to weigh the effects of both sides, but social media will continue to dominate the cultural landscape for young people. As your kids grow up, your parenting skills in this area may have to evolve.
Prepare Your Kids For How to Deal With the Constant Influx of Information
When we were growing up, “the news” was something you read in the morning paper or watched on TV. Magazines and conversations could add to our knowledge, but that was about it. Unless you went out of your way to read or watch the news, you could remain blissfully unaware of most current events. Today, it’s exactly the opposite. News is everywhere 24/7 and it’s instant. It never stops, and even when you’re not looking for headlines, you’re bombarded with them. Unfortunately, it doesn’t distinguish between kids and adults. Young people may not know how to deal with things like misinformation, or the stress and anxiety caused by hearing about tragic world events. Talk to them about current events and the things they learn online. Be sure to stress the importance of self-care when they feel overwhelmed and overstimulated.
Recognize That the Digital World Can’t Be Separated From the Real World
For older generations, there’s a huge distinction between “we chatted online” and “we chatted over coffee.” This is because, for many years, the experience of using the internet revolved around the idea of “logging on” — a concept completely foreign to Gen Z. Today, thanks to 5G internet and smartphones, you’re always online. When your kids say they hung out with their friends, that could mean on Twitch, Zoom, or Discord. Or it could just as easily mean they’re at the park. Technology and social media are completely embedded into everyday life, and they aren’t something that can be turned off anymore. One way this seriously affects kids is cyberbullying. Unlike in the past, it can follow kids home and happen at any time of day. This can make it feel a lot more distressing! Keep this in mind when your kids get upset about something that happens “online” — it’s so much more than that to them. It’s their whole world.
Understand the Issues Previous Generations Didn’t Have to Deal With
There are some scary things kids have always faced: things like skinned knees, back-to-school jitters, and bad dreams. But some of the issues facing young people today couldn’t have been imagined 50 years ago. This includes dangers that the internet has brought to life, like cyberbullying, catfishing, and online grooming. It also includes issues that were once thought to be so infrequent as to be almost impossible, like child suicide. Today, suicide is now the second-leading cause of death for young people. Because all of these dangers are relatively new, it’s crucial to talk to your kids and have open and honest conversations about them together.
Teach Your Kid About Their Digital Footprint
Instilling good manners can be a big part of raising kids. From saying “please” and “thank you” to knowing which clothes to wear to church, children learn from their families how to act in public. Kids today are taught these same rules, but just as important is digital etiquette. Because so many of our interactions happen online, it’s necessary that children learn what’s proper there. Introducing the concept of digital citizenship to your family means explaining that their actions online can reach a lot of people. Their digital footprint can even last for years to come!
How Bark Can Help
Because so much has changed for families in the past decades or so, keeping up with technology can be extra challenging. One of the best tools to add to your parenting skills toolbox is Bark! Our award-winning service monitors your kid’s texts, emails, and 30+ apps and social media platforms for signs of digital dangers. We also have a powerful web filter and screen time management tools to help protect them from inappropriate content.
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Bark is a comprehensive online safety solution that empowers families to monitor content, manage screen time, and filter websites to help protect their kids online. Our mission is to give parents and guardians the tools they need to raise kids in the digital age.