November 14th is a day children in India keenly look forward to. Schools and neighbourhoods gear up to make the day a memorable one for the children; TV channels run continuous children’s special serials and movies and there is no pressure at home to study.
At the Facebook Safety Summit panel discussion, where I recently participated, a lady from the audience expressed her inability to understand her teen. They seemed to be living in different dimensions! I suggested she work with him to help her become tech-savvy.
One Teacher’s Day program that was a great hit in my school was when teachers pretended to be a students and presented a farce. The children just loved it! Why can’t we do this at home sometimes?
There will always be situations when children would need to be reminded of their boundaries and you need to put on your parent-mantle and say, “Because I said so!” Parents need to be both firm and loving. But what if you are in uncharted territories like the digital world? Where your knowledge of the latest social media developments is limited compared to that of your children? How can you establish yourself as an authority your children will respect, obey and turn to for guidance if you are not a digital literate? Who will you turn to for cyber surfing tips?
Yes, you heard that right. Turn the table around and be the student for a change. Let your kids teach you about the digital world. You can encourage them by asking about security, privacy, cyberbullying, fake news, risky games and other topics that concern you. Check out how they download apps. Be prepared for some amazing conversations and insights into their digital hygiene awareness. You will know whether they are mature enough to handle tricky situations. If you buy a new device, consult them on securing it and activating 2-factor authentication.
Benefits of digital role reversals
- Set an example: Children learn a lot by observing their parents. So, if you don’t hesitate to ask them when in doubt, they wouldn’t either. Also, if parents practice digital balance, kids will usually follow suit.
- Promote mutual understanding, trust and respect: Commend your kids when they share valuable tips. Your words would act like an instant confidence booster and make them feel all grown-up and responsible.
- Extend real life education to cover the digital one: You can establish this during your conversations about how you think real world lifeskill lessons apply to the virtual space. Talk about peer pressure, good manners, diplomacy, etiquette, etc. to drive home the point.
- Better understanding of child’s digital world: Think about all that you can learn! You have first-hand knowledge of the apps they use and can later Google them to learn more about associated risks, if any. You get an idea about what’s trending, the new online threats and also what interests your kids and how they spend time online.
- Opportunity to test their cyber security awareness: Dig deep to get to know how kids secure their accounts and the content they create. Also, have a detailed chat about the merits of using licensed security tools vis-à-vis a free basic one. This lesson will last them a lifetime and ensure their online safety so spend time on this on a regular basis.
This Children’s Day, try out a bit of role reversal and pick up tips on being a savvy digital citizen from your kids. Not only will they feel proud of helping you become a smart device user, you also get to understand how they view digital media, online friendship, cyber safety and data privacy. With one stroke, you will both empower your kids and also strengthen your bonds with them. You are without doubt, your children’s best teacher and well-wisher. So, with their interest in heart, be the kid sometime.
Happy Children’s Day to all your precious angels.