90% of the kids with a (new) smartphone look to their parents for explanation about how to use the device. However, parents don’t (always have the time to) bother or don’t know enough about it. But 89% of them say they want more explanation about certain apps their kids use. The result? Kids are swimming in the digital deep and action is only taken if issues arise. We have listed 5 tips so that kids & parents can be smarter and safer online in 2024.
- Stay in touch
The most important tip: make sure you are and stay in touch. Ask what your kid is doing on his or her smartphone and why. Every child is different and wants different things. Which apps do they want, why those apps, what do they expect to be able to do with them?
Try to look beyond your own judgment about a particular app (a waste of time..), event (oh, that’s really not that bad..) or purchase (that’s really not worth it..). Your child is building their own identity. Listen to what your child says, show interest, respect the experiences and see what it takes to help your child along the way without judging. Even if mistakes are made, kids should feel like they can come to you. Making mistakes is part of learning, but it is nice if you know about it.
So make sure you are and remain open and accessible. Because if you know what they want, you can help them better in how they can best do this or offer safer/more convenient alternatives.
- Inform yourself
There’s a good chance you only half understand what your kids are talking about. And you don’t know where to start to fully read up on all those apps and terms. But if you exchange 3 minutes of scrolling every day for 3 minutes of reading (or have your child explain it to you!), it will help you as a family a lot. If you know better what is going on in their online world, you can help them much better. And they really need that (mental) help!
- Make agreements
Don’t just make agreements about screen time, but also discuss which apps, where & when the phone will be used. How you handle purchases, behave socially, share information and what rules apply at home and at school. With clear agreements, your child knows where it stands. Tell your child what certain rules are intended for and let them think about good solutions themselves. And last but not least, stick to those agreements yourself. So, for example, no telephone during dinner is a rule for the whole family.
- Use the latest version
Make sure your child uses the latest version of the phone’s system (Android, iOS) so that they can get started safely. In addition, various family settings can be created per system, screen times per app and more and more apps also have specific settings for parental controls, location sharing and data.
- You are not alone!
They say “it takes a village to raise a child” and that certainly applies as well to everything that comes with when your child enters the online world. So you are certainly not alone! Check what friends are doing, discuss it with parents of the class, ask questions to parents with older kids and reach out and ask for (professional) help when necessary.