Parents can become overwhelmed by the rapid changes in information and communication technologies (ICT) and contradictory advice on how best to support their children’s safe and beneficial internet use. Being a parents on how to maximize the positive aspects of internet use by focusing on online activities (rather than screen time), co-using technologies with their children, respecting children’s privacy, promoting resilience and acting as role models.
Screen time vs. screen activity
When trying to mediate children’s internet use, parents sometimes limit the amount of screen time, which not only might create conflicts but is also not the best approach. Recent research indicates that time spent online is less important for children’s well-being and health than the online activities they engage in. Children are more likely to benefit from longer online engagement when they are older and more competent than when they are very young.
- Establishing routines about device and internet use is more helpful than having flexible or ad hoc rules which can be harder to explain to children.
- Understanding the rules can help children to follow them as research shows that children accept rules more when they are explained to them.
Joint media engagement
One aspect of parental mediation that brings along many advantages is the co-use of digital technologies. By playing online games together or watching child’s favorite TV show or YouTube channel parents can review the content and can discuss issues that arise. Children appreciate that parents are interested in their favorite media and enjoy being the knowledgeable partner.
By using ICT together parents can support their children in gaining better skills, taking advantage of a wider range of online opportunities, and learning how to use technologies safely
Show interest but respect the child’s privacy
Children and young people want their parents to understand their views and what the digital world means to them. They would appreciate it if parents focus not only on the negative aspects of digital technologies but also discuss the positive aspects of ICTs and how digital
technologies development of a healthy relationship with technology. If parents spend a lot of time on their Smartphone children also start to question the rules they need to follow and they are disappointed if this behavior leads to less family time can benefit children.
- Children could experience some parental involvement as violating their privacy, for example, if parents comment on the child’s social media profile or monitor their browsing history
- Many children do not want their parents to send or post photos of them without permission. This can be particularly frustrating if the shared pictures are perceived as embarrassing.
Parents are role models for their children
Children mirror their parents’ ICT practices and adapt their behavior depending on how parents use digital technologies. Scholars who studied adults’ technology behavior while taking care of children found that technology distraction can lead to reduced parental attention and changes in the career-child interaction. In some cases, this might lead to missed out opportunities to foster the child’s development of a healthy relationship with technology. If parents spend a lot of time on their Smartphone children also start to question the rules they need to follow and they are disappointed if this behavior leads to less family time