Kids these days are more tech savvy than any previous generation. This is partly due to the democratization of technology — the fact that technology is cheaper and more readily available than ever before. Children are also introduced to technology at a young age in pre-school, kindergarten and the early years of primary school.
Despite the young age at which they have been exposed to smartphones, tablets, and other types of digital devices, not all children have a good relationship with technology. In fact, experts are becoming increasingly concerned about the negative effects of too much time spent in the digital world, particularly on young minds.
With this in mind, continue reading to discuss the internet safety rules you can implement to set your child on the path to digital success.
Screen time recommendations
Screen time recommendations vary depending on the age of the child and the country they are living in. In Australia, the Department of Health has strict guidelines on the amount of sedentary vs active behaviour that kids should engage in on a daily basis.
This is particularly important for pre-school aged children, who require a good balance between indoor and outdoor time for developmental reasons.
For those aged 0–2 years, it is recommended that:
- Children under 2 should not be spending any time watching television or using any other form of electronic media.
- Instead, offer babies and young children the opportunity to move, play, and reach and touch objects.
For children aged 2–5 years, it is recommended that:
- Sitting and watching television or using other forms of electronic media should be limited to less than 1 hour a day.
In general, those aged 0–5 years should not be kept sedentary for more than 1 hour at a time, except when sleeping.
What types of activities should my child be doing online?
Children should not be completely blocked from the online world. After all, the 21st century has meant that digital skills are essential for anyone entering the workforce. Understanding the online world can significantly help your kids when it comes to school and learning about the world around them.
It is important, however, to pick and choose the types of activities your child engages in online carefully. There are a whole range of educational games and resources out there and you should invest your limited screen time wisely.
When searching for appropriate online activities for your child, consider:
- Artistic activities: This includes games that allow your child to make music, colouring sheets, and drawing-based games
- Puzzles and brain teasers: Look for games such as I-Spy, jigsaw puzzles, and websites that introduce coding (very popular amongst kids!)
- Word games: Online games are a great way to increase your child’s grammar knowledge and vocabulary. Consider word-finds, crosswords, and Scrabble-inspired activities.
- Maths games: Many children struggle to learn basic maths skills including addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Games can teach them these topics in a fun and informative way.
As always, internet security is very important when it comes to your child and the internet. Children under 5 should always be supervised when they are online and should not be left alone with any device that has an internet connection.
How to raise good digital citizens
Beyond ensuring that your child is learning online, it’s important that you teach them the social and emotional skills so that they can be responsible digital citizens.
Modelling good online behaviour and having open discussions with your child about how you expect them to behave online can assist them as they get older and start exploring social media.
Teach your child that being a good digital citizen includes:
- Contributing positively to the global online community
- Being open to other people’s cultures and perspectives when online
- Being aware that not everything you read or watch online is true — having the skills to spot fake news
- Treating others online the way that you would in real life
- Understanding that all of your online activities leave a trail, which is your permanent digital footprint
- Protecting your privacy and the privacy of others while online.
These may seem like simple skills but many of us forget them or do not understand the importance of following them.
Your kid’s online safety is heavily dependent upon you having open discussions about their digital rights and responsibilities. Setting boundaries on the amount of time they spend in the digital world as opposed to the real world will also set them well on the path to digital success.
Bridget is a writer and editor, currently living in Melbourne. She is a copywriter for Newpath Web and loves working with words of all shapes and sizes. When not playing around with punctuation and grammar, she enjoys travelling and curating her Spotify playlists.