We know that “digital parenting” is quite the buzz phrase these days. Our approach to it has been similar to how we parent our kids around similar difficult topics (think non-alarmist, non-judgmental), except unlike the sex talk or the drug talk, there’s really no precedent. We don’t have the one we got as kids as an example.
So through this site, as well as our Out Tech Your Kids Facebook Group, we’ve attempted to establish a community and dialog around tech-positive parenting. We believe that technology is part of life now, and because our kids are digital natives, we’ve decided to embrace technology rather than run from it. We also believe that our job is to mentor, guide, and empower our kids, versus monitor and manage (depending on their age). And that it’s important for us to stay informed on what our kids are doing, and what they might be (that means being ahead of the curve).
With all that in mind, I wanted to share 5 ways you can be a tech-positive parent in your home that we discussed in our recent Spawned Parenting Podcast. Contrary to some peoples’ beliefs, this does not mean a free-for-all approach. Here, our suggestions for helping raise the future of digital natives who could potentially use technology to change the world for good.
1. Talk to them about technology, but not just about it: how to use it. Even if your kids aren’t on social media just yet, make sure they know how to comment and react to other comments.
2. Engage with your kids in digital media. That can be everything from watching TV and movies (yes, even their favorite YouTubers), as well as playing with them – apps, video games, and more.
3. Teach them how to become content creators. Tech isn’t just about consuming. From learning to code to learning how to make their own YouTube videos, these are valuable skills your kids will use in many facets of their life, no matter what they end up doing as a grown-up.
4. Start your kids on social media at a younger age. Before you freak out about this, I’m not suggesting you hand over Instagram to your 7-year old. But Jordan Shapiro makes a good point in that when your kids are younger, they’re more apt to listen to you, and well, they’re a little bit nicer (dang hormones). I started using TikTok with my daughter on my own phone, showing her how to use it (or rather, her showing me), and making sure she was capable enough to have it on her own phone before I let her loose with it.
5. Show them what other positive things can come out of tech use. It’s not just coding games and educational apps. It can be how we get our news, it can be how we learn about other cultures, it can be how we learn skills we can’t find an IRL teacher for (my daughter will be starting an ASL course on Outschool tonight!)