Parenting in Cyberspace
Updated: May 18, 2020
One of the greatest challenges presenting itself to todays parents, with regards to cyber space, is how to control it. Unfortunately there is no clear and easy answer to this, but one thing that is absolutely crucial, and that should be the starting point for each household, is to have a very clear set of rules, limitations and expectations for the whole family.
The internet is a playground for all sorts of undesirable characters, activities and content. For this reason we should be very careful what we allow our children to access during their time online. Unfortunately, many of our children are far more tech-savvy than we as adults are, which can make monitoring their online behaviour even more
difficult. Cyber parenting is so important and should be taken seriously. It is imperative that you create the rules as well as explain the need for these rules, removing all ambiguity. Importantly, these cyber rules need to apply to all individuals in the house, including you as the parents.
Why Cyber Parenting?
I recently attended a talk by Emma Sadleir on the topic of Social Media Law, which opened my eyes to the scary reality of the internet and the potential harm and legal ramifications of our online behaviour. Following Emma’s presentation, it was clear that we need to learn more about what our children are doing online, but also take a much more active role in monitoring their online behaviour.
Where do we start?
The starting point is educating ourselves on what our children are exposed to, what the age limits are, and what we can do to help protect them. It is essential to set some time aside so that you can answer your questions and be informed. It is also crucial to determine how technology fits into your family and ties in with your family values, rules and boundaries. Cyber parenting and discipline within the home are inseparable as your children’s online behaviour should mirror that of what you expect from them in reality.
Each website and social network with have their own age restrictions, research these and become familiar with these so that you are not in the dark. It is also a good idea to have a look over some of the terms and conditions so that you have a better understanding of what using a certain website or application actually means. Here are some age limits for a few popular websites:
Facebook – 13 years old
Instagram – 13 years old
YouTube – 13 years old
Myspace – 13 years old
Snapchat – 13 years old
WhatsApp – 16 years old
Twitter – no age limit
How long should your children, or you, be spending in front of a screen each day is a very difficult question to answer. There is plenty research on the topic, however a lot of it provides contradictory or vague generalisations. At the end of they day, we need to bear two important facts in mind. Firstly, all screens emit a blue light that refreshes numerous times a second (we don't notice this), whether it a cellphone, television or iPad. The younger a person is, the less developed their central nervous system is which interprets these “flashing” impulses. Screen time can impact the neural development in our brains, and so we need try to limit the use where we can. Click here