By Hilary Smith
Ready or not, the countdown to Christmas has already began. We simply need to wander down the aisles of our favorite stores to witness it. Thankfully, these first hints remind us ’tis the season to begin budgeting and planning for our upcoming celebrations. After all, it can take a lot of money, shopping, deal searching. Suddenly, gift giving isn’t as easy as it once was. Instead of the traditional visions of sugar plums, or requests for dolls or cars, our kids are now dreaming of packages filled with digital devices ranging from cell phones to tablets. Now is the perfect time to plan ahead and consider a few things before gifting children digital devices this Christmas.
5 Things To Ask Before Gifting Kids Digital Devices
As parents, we need to realize that cyberbullying and digital predators are a very real threat facing our children. In fact, 87 percent of our kids have witnessed or encountered cyberbullying. While those numbers are startling, it is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to technology pitfalls our sons and daughters might encounter.
So, before we stuff our sons’ and daughters’ stockings with digital devices, we need to ask ourselves the following questions to make sure our children are mature enough to handle the responsibility that comes with digital ownership:
- Does my child take care of his or her belongings?
- Can my son or daughter use good judgment or display mature reasoning?
- Will my child be able to understand the ins and outs of the permanence of social media?
- Does my child comprehend how words can hurt?
- Has my child learned about social media etiquette?
Unwrapping A Merry Holiday: Tips For Kids and Technology
After answering the above questions, you should have a better understanding if your child is ready to receive a digital device this upcoming Holiday season. Deciding that a child has the necessary skills to safely navigate the Internet, text messages, disappearing messages, and social media is important, but we also owe it to our children to prepare them for potential dangers that accompany logging onto digital devices.
Before a child unwraps their new device, consider implementing the following recommendations to help protect them long after the decorations have been put away:
- Do our research. We need to be aware of common dangers lurking online and behind our favorite technologies. It’s important to educate ourselves, so we can help teach our kids to avoid problems.
- Create a technology contract for the family. Sit down and write a plan that covers everyone’s expectations and the consequences for using technology. By doing this, you will be able to get everyone on the same page and avoid conflict later down the road.
- Teach children the proper way to set their privacy settings. Don’t take it for granted that our kids know how to protect their information and photos online. Sit down and walk them through the process.
- Start discussing social media etiquette and taboo subjects like sexting, oversharing, and cyberbullying. Our children are constantly barraged with inaccurate information from their friends and the media. It’s our duty to make sure they are receiving the correct data and knowledge so they can be empowered to make smart choices.
- Consider using a monitoring program to stay on top of a child’s technology usage. This will allow access to a child’s cell phone or digital devices so you can see how they are behaving online and interacting with others. As a child demonstrates maturity and good judgment, you can slowly scale back your presence.
- Develop a family rule about limiting digital devices to common living areas. By keeping technology out of the bedrooms and bathrooms, you are reducing the probability that a child will engage in risky behaviors. As an added bonus, you are also protecting their sleep environments and providing kids with much needed down time from technology.
Will you be planning to gift your child a digital device? Why or why not?
Born and raised in Austin, TX, Hilary Smith is a freelance journalist whose love of gadgets, technology and business has no bounds. After becoming a parent she now enjoys writing about family and parenting related topics.