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Parenting in the Age of Technology

April 22, 2024
Guest Contributor
SMCS Blog - Students on laptops in class

In a thriving – and fast-paced – digital era, parents face a unique set of opportunities and challenges when it comes to helping students navigate technology. With so many tools for education, communication, and entertainment available at our fingertips, it’s crucial to set boundaries on screen time and implement best practices for online safety, in order to help students thrive both online and off. Below, we’ve outlined some helpful considerations for parents to help set their child up for success in their online environments.

Set Boundaries

The cornerstone of parenting in the digital age is setting clear boundaries. From a young age, it’s crucial to establish rules around technology usage, specifying which devices or apps are appropriate for different age groups. The key is to find the right balance. This includes setting limits on screen time, designating tech-free zones within the home, and encouraging a mix of online and offline activities.

At the heart of these efforts is the aim to cultivate a healthy relationship with technology, with open communication. Regular check-ins and adjustments to these boundaries will help ensure they remain relevant, as your child grows and technology evolves.

Model Healthy Behavior

More often than not, children learn by example, often mirroring the behaviors they see. This places a significant onus on parents to demonstrate healthy technology habits. Being mindful of your screen time, engaging in productive online activities, and finding a harmonious balance between digital and real-world interactions serve as a powerful example for your children.

SMCS Blog - Students looking at a tablet in the library

Maintain Open Communication

A vital aspect of navigating the digital age with your children is fostering an environment where open communication is the norm—not one-off conversations.

Discussing the benefits and risks associated with technology openly with your child can help demystify the digital world, answer lingering questions, and equip your children with the knowledge they need to navigate the Internet safely. Having regular follow-up conversations with your child will help you stay on top of any issues, concerns, or questions that may arise as they explore different online environments.

Monitor and Supervise

Staying informed about your child’s online activities requires balancing supervision and respect for their privacy. Employing tools like parental control software or occasionally reviewing their browsing history together can be part of a broader strategy that prioritizes open dialogue and trust.

When it comes to supervising your child’s online presence, consistency is key: set clear expectations for your child, establish boundaries and rules of online engagement, and always remember to check in and review together as technology evolves.

Teach Critical Thinking Skills

The digital realm is vast – and, at times, can be misleading. Teaching your children to critically evaluate online content, discern credible sources from misinformation, and engage thoughtfully with the media they consume is an invaluable skill set that will serve them well in school and beyond.

SMCS Blog - Parenting in the age of technology

Encourage Creativity and Balance

Technology is far from a passive medium—it’s a tool for creativity, research, and exploration. Encouraging your children to use digital devices for educational purposes, digital art, or as a resource for learning and self-expression is just as important as urging them to play outside, read books, and spend quality time with family and friends. Again, it’s all about creating a healthy balance.

To encourage creating this balance, St. Michael’s College School offers a wealth of clubs and activities that provide valuable opportunities for students to engage in enriching offline experiences. These extracurriculars offer an excellent avenue for students to explore their online and offline interests, develop new skills, and foster relationships within a supportive community setting.

Stay Informed and Adaptive

The digital landscape is ever-evolving, so parents must remain informed and flexible. Keeping abreast of the latest trends, apps, and platforms that captivate children’s interest allows parents and teachers to guide them more effectively and adapt our strategies to meet the changing digital environment.

At St. Michael’s College School, we believe in the power of community, open dialogue, and education to help students navigate their online journeys successfully. By setting boundaries, modeling healthy behaviors, fostering open communication, and encouraging creativity, parents can help guide their children toward a balanced and fulfilling digital life. Together, we can instill in SMCS students the confidence and conviction they need to stay informed and make responsible online decisions.