New Family Dynamics As the Connected Lifestyle Grows

“You know that we are living in a digital world and I am a digital girl.”

I often find myself humming the above lines when I am struck by how digital has become a part and parcel of our lives. Digital India has made the internet an indispensable part of consumers’ life. From benefits related to education, medicine, transportation and entertainment to your personal comfort at home, internet related services have come a long way.

As our real world and cyber world merges, there are bound to be changes in the family dynamics. Devices, for instance our smartphones are already playing an increasingly significant role. We can use it to turn the TV into a smart TV, operate the car lock, connect the home CCTV system to our smartphones, or even monitor AC temperature of our homes.

The growth in connected homes equate to new family challenges. Are we aware of all the implications and challenges of a smart home and how to prepare our kids for it? To better understand family behavior and attitudes towards the connected lifestyle, McAfee conducted a global survey of 13,000 adults about their family’s evolving digital habits and more.

The McAfee global survey, “New Family Dynamics in a Connected World,” emphasizes the need for simple ways for parents to manage internet connectivity in their homes.

Indian parents are concerned about their children’s internet usage. 93% of the parents have had a talk with their children about the dangers of cyber criminals and identity theft. 49% of parents are worried about the potential interaction of their child with a social predator or cybercriminal. Many are monitoring screen time, with 57% of them limiting it to 1-2 hours per day. Some parents have admitted to having arguments with their children about taking devices to bed.

  • Concern shows awareness and needs to be backed by suitable actions. Start conversations about cybersafety early. Set simple rules like, “always use passwords” or, “don’t open emails from strangers.” You also need to stay aware of new apps that your children like and use.

Digital use monitoring continues to lag behind. In India, 84% of parents allow their child to bring an internet-connected device to bed, much higher than the global average of 76%. Of those Indian kids taking their devices to bed, 32% of parents monitor their child’s device usage but 24% do not.

  • You can really help your child by playing a more proactive role. Besides securing your child’s device, you may want to have the passwords for their social media accounts until they are mature enough to handle all online activities responsibly.

Adults are still not setting a very good example. On an average, 43% of adults are spending more time online than on face to face interactions when at home (40%). Consider this, 71% of parents have been called out by their child for being on their device during family time!

  • As parents, you need to teach your child good digital practices through your own examples. Why not limit your own screen time and keep your device away during family time? This will send the message across that it is also important to interact in person and there are times when you need to keep the device away.

With digital getting integrated into children’s everyday lives, it’s imperative for parents to implement a few do’s and don’ts.

Quick tips:

  • Secure devices: Use comprehensive protection, like McAfee LiveSafe, across all devices and set up parental controls for each child.
  • Stranger-danger: Teach your children to say “NO” to interactions with anyone they don’t know well in real life.
  • Strong password: Teach kids the need for strong, unique and secure passwords
  • Share passwords with parents: Children need to keep their parents updated on all their passwords until they are mature enough to understand and handle their digital responsibility.
  • Clean devices: Minimize the amount of data stored on a device. The less data on the device, the less there will be for hackers to steal. Be sure to backup your data via cloud storage or external devices.

The times are changing and children continue to seamlessly adapt to new technology. What you as a parent can do is teach them to practice digital balance early on. Keep communication channels open. Set rules but at the same time, allow them some privacy and freedom too. In the digital world, the security of connected homes depends a lot on its members. Get your family to start following cyber safety rules to make the most of your connected lifestyle.

Have a great day!

 

 

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