08/05/2020 04:15 PM IST
When we were kids there no concept of a 'mobile phone' as a device for fun and leisure. Some of us didn't even have the landline at home. Most of the children in the 80's and early 90's were introduced to mobile phones only in college. However today, the mobile phone is the most easily available and accessible device. It has turned from a luxury into a necessity and is owned by persons across age groups. With a huge population of young millennial parents today's children are born around it and it is almost like they know how to use the mobile faster than any of us adults! With the over exposure of the mobile and it's easy access, there is also an increasing fear in terms of ensuring our children are using this correctly - in terms of content being accessed etc. Here are a few mobile safety tips for kids
1. Limit screen time, not just the use of the internet - Fix a limited number of hours that children can use the phone and let them decide when they would like to use it. Let the child also feel like he/she is in control. You decide the amount of time and your child can choose 'when/ which time of the day'. Excessive exposure to any activity will become a bane, hence it is important to limit screen time
2. Guide them to use the phone constructively - A lot of children use their phones for all activities right from using it for calls to social media to research and checking their emails. As parents, we recommend you guide them with interesting apps, digital libraries, video libraries that will help broaden their knowledge, will expose them to different kinds of music & art - guide them on how they can effectively use their 'mobile time' to explore different aspects apart from only entertainment & connecting with friends.
3. Talk to children about using social media apps: social media apps are used to connect with friends across the world however social media apps are a downers and most of these apps thrive because of low esteem. Children should be sensitized not to 'believe' everything they 'see'. A lot of the content on social media is a make-believe world and they should not be influenced by different profiles or influencers looking at the content online. Parents should also warn children about 'fake profiles' and share cases of online predators so that children are wary while using social media apps.
4. Talk to children about the importance of not talking to strangers, even ONLINE - the World Wide Web gives us access to an unknown world and people whose intentions may not always be right. Like we tell our children not to talk to strangers you need to have this conversation with them the minute you give them a mobile phone and access to the internet. It is crucial for children to understand that not everyone is their friend out there on the internet and one can never judge by the 'profile'. Trusting anyone blindly would attract trouble.
5. Limit access to sensitive sites, chat rooms, etc - It is very important to put child locks on sensitive sites and chat rooms, only because you cannot be monitoring what your child is doing 24/7 and you need to make sure of your child's safety.
6. Put your phones and laptops down when talking to your children - Children learn from their parents, if you want children to pay attention to what you are saying, you need to build that habit by giving them complete attention when they are talking to you.
Mobile safety is crucial in today's times. As parents it is up to us to make the best use of the digital world, take the effort to research what your children should do online so that it can become a learning experience and not just a way of escaping from the real world. Plan their day for them in a way that they are given time to read, play outdoors, have screen time, enjoy family time, and study. Take time out of your busy schedule to do fun things with children. It is very easy to blame technology, however, as parents, we need to understand that technology is here to stay, technology is the future. It is better to embrace it for what it is and leverage it to empower and build our children all while ensuring mobile safety is maintained.
At the end of the day, if parents can replace screen time and build the day with more 'family time' and engaging offline activities that will keep your child amused and happy, it would be ideal!