As our children venture into toddlerhood, they start to test us a bit. They tug at the tethers we create for them to see just how far they can push us. As they grow and learn, they begin to carve out a vision of the world for themselves—with your guidance, of course, so that they can learn how to live a safe and happy life both now and as they get older.
This is true in the digital world as well.
Typically, at around age two, our kids get their first taste of playing on mommy’s or daddy’s smartphone or tablet and discover an awesome new world of devices and online activities. It’s slow at first—a couple minutes here and there—but, over time, they spend more and more of their day online. You have an opportunity when your child has their first experience with a connected device to set the tone for what’s expected. This is a deliberate teaching moment, the first of many, where you explain how to go safely online and continue to reinforce these behaviors as they grow.
Just as at home and in school, these are children’s formative years in the digital world because there’s a significant increase in their access to devices and online engagement—whether it means watching videos, playing games, interacting with educational software, or many other activities. Keeping them safe in this environment needs to be top of mind, and that includes awareness of how their initial data puddle will rapidly become a data pond during these years. We need to be aware that this pond has direct ties to our privacy, their privacy, and, ultimately, to their life in general.
This chapter of “Is Your Digital Front Door Unlocked?” lays out several topics that, if done in healthy and constructive way, will make your child’s digital journey much more enjoyable. Topics such as the importance of rules, online etiquette, and the notion of “the talk” as it relates to going online safely are discussed in detail, in the hope of providing a framework that will grow as your child grows.
It also looks at challenges that every parent should be aware of, such as cyberbullying and the impact of screen time on your child. It also introduces the risks associated with online gaming for those just getting started.
I can’t express strongly enough the importance of engagement with your child during the formative years. This chapter will give you plenty of ideas of how to go about it in a way that both you and your child will enjoy.
Gary Davis’ book, Is Your Digital Front Door Unlocked?, is available September 5, 2019 and can be ordered at amazon.com.