Digital media is part of our kids’ lives and we need to learn how to manage our own media consumption.

Kids today are growing up to be future digital consumers and content producers. Since digital media has become an important platform for human communications, parents need to become good role models for media use. How they spend time online could influence their kids’ online lifestyles and digital footprints.

In a report published by Common Sense Media: most parents in America spend 9 hours online and 82 percent of these is spent on social media, playing mobile apps, and watching videos online. However, the same report revealed that 43 percent of these parents are still worried about their kids’ media activities. Since children look up to their parents as their role models, they have to learn how to control their media use.

Here are some tips on how parents can manage their own media use and their kids.

Set an example

If you want your kids to listen to your advice on managing their media use, you must set an example. Instead of spending half your day online, spend more time with your children. Help them with their school assignments or projects. Read books with them or read them a story to help engage their imaginations. You can also ask them to help you with household chores and treat it as another playtime activity. Kids mimic what we do and the less screen time we spend, the less they’ll spend time with their own devices.

Limit digital distractions

Controlling media use at home seems like a challenge but it can be done. Devices such as smartphones, computers, and even televisions are forms of digital distractions. To limit these, set rules on when and where they can be used. Meal times and before going to bed should be tech-free times. The dining area and bedrooms should also be designated tech-free zones. Discourage them from texting while eating because they’re not actually connecting physically. Teach them to connect with the family by encouraging them to share the highlights of their day. Texting while eating isn’t connecting at all.

Technology isn’t an emotional pacifier

A smartphone or tablet can help kids, and even adults, keep calm and quiet. If your child or teen is board, letting him or her use their smart devices won’t help pacify their emotions. Let them explore their emotions and teach them to handle strong emotions. If they feel sad because they had an argument with a friend, you can teach them to calm down through breathing exercises. Talking to them will also help because it teaches them to open up with other people. Help them find solutions to their problems. If your child is bored, look for other activities which don’t involve technology. Reading books or playing with their peers teaches them there are other ways to have fun. These will also help them develop their emotional intelligence.

Kids will be kids and they’ll make mistakes online

Kids will always be kids and they’ll make mistakes. It’s part of growing up and it’s our responsibility to guide them through their mistakes. Show empathy when they made a bad post on social media or accidentally viewed adult content online. Make these errors into teachable moments so they can learn from them. However, if they start posting inappropriate self-images, become victims of cyberbullying or sexting, address these problems with caution. Ask your family pediatrician or their school teachers for professional help. They know how to handle these situations and guide you properly. You can also sign up for premium security services to monitor and protect your child online. MomSecure’s premium cyber security services include certified professionals who can work with you to protect your child’s innocence.

Technology is an integral part of our lives today. If used in moderation, it’s a powerful tool for communication and learning. However, spending more face-to-face time with family and friends is still a more powerful tool in developing our mental and emotional intelligence.

Visit the MomSecure blog page for more tips on digital citizenship.