As a parent, I see how much access kids have to devices and digital safety is very important, so I keep a close eye on how much time our kids spend online.
A few days ago, my son was not in a good mood when he got off of the bus. As I greeted him on the porch with our usual hug and kiss, he abruptly stomped past me and walked into the house. I could sense something was off, but as a mom of growing kids, some days, you have no idea which way is up and which way is down, so I treaded lightly.
As he put his book bag on the table and started to unpack his stuff, I asked him what was wrong. I was racking my brain, trying to figure out what I might have done to upset him, but I was coming up blank. So I handed him a glass of milk, tousled his hair, and asked, “What’s up, buddy?”
He sighed a huge 8-year old sigh, and said, “Every other kid on the bus has an iPhone except for me. They all get to play games on the bus and I’ve got nothing to do, but watch them. They even have music on their phones!”
I sighed a huge sigh of relief because I had been worried that it was something else. I thought perhaps he had been bullied, or he got in trouble at school, or he had a fight with one of his friends. But technology? I was perfectly fine with him being upset at my husband and I over our technology rules.
You see, we have this conversation at least once a week in our home. The kids get upset because so-and-so has a something-or-other and we’re “really mean” because we don’t let them have whatever it is. We’re “not fair” because we don’t let them have a TV in their rooms, we’re “too strict” because they can only play on their WiiU or PlayStation after homework but before dinner, we’re “unfair” because we don’t let them have iPhones…blah, blah, blah.
I don’t mean to sound flip, but in the grand scheme of life, I’m completely fine with them being annoyed at us for keeping a close reign on their electronic media use. As a parent, I see how much exposure they have to devices all day long. From Smart Boards (which are really cool) to computer class, from TVs to iPhones, they’re bombarded constantly. Now this doesn’t mean I’m anti-technology – I’m a blogger, and I use technology all day long too, but a healthy life is all about balance. So I keep a very close eye on how much time our kids spend on devices.
Plus, my sister and I also freelance for a children’s mental health organization here on Long Island and we often talk to parents about social media. We believe that social media can be a positive influence on a child’s life, especially when it’s used for good like texting with close friends, raising awareness about charities, and researching school projects.
However, it can also be harmful to a child’s emotional well-being when left unmonitored and used extensively, especially during the school-aged years as it’s often the main source of bullying among children. This is why we partnered with National PTA and LifeLock to help families educate themselves about how they can make positive, safe decisions online. Their #ShareAwesome campaign encourages people to share awesome ways that families can create an open, evolving conversation about using digital tools. In order to promote digital safety and positive behavior online, National PTA has launched a digital citizenship program:
- The #ShareAwesome Website will be full of expert information about digital safety from National PTA partners, as well as information for students, parents, PTAs and schools to participate in the #ShareAwesome campaign.
- The site will contain information that supports an open conversation between parents and students that allows students to participate in, and steer, the conversation by creating content themselves.
- They will also provide resources to more than 22,000 local PTAs nationwide and in US schools overseas that will engage families in face-to-face activation opportunities to #ShareAwesome ways to make positive, safer digital choices.
- Lastly, the #ShareAwesome contest invites social media users to share a smart and safe decision, uplifting accomplishment, or positive action for the good of others using hashtag #ShareAwesome on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Students who enter a photo between September 15 – November 30, 2014 will be eligible to win fantastic prizes, including tablets and a $2,500 scholarship! Visit ShareAwesomeNow.org to learn more.
We’re really excited about this digital citizenship program from National PTA and LifeLock – and we hope we can use the #ShareAwesome Website in our own family conversations about social media and making smart choices online. For now, our children will have to do without an iPhone, but will still get to use their tablets and gaming systems in moderation until they get a little bit older.
Have fun, but be safe,
Denine & Daniele
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.0