It is human nature to find fascination with things that are off limits. The DO NOT ENTER sign ignites our imaginations as to what might lie within, the secret cupboard where the gifts are kept is always the target of sneaky investigations, the age restricted movie is the one we dress up to get into.
And so it is with technology and kids. If you say ‘no’ or block things it leads to an internal conflict and most likely some form of rebellion. They want to find out what it is that you’re hiding and then will do it behind your back.
The generational gap has become the digital gap and it is growing. We are the infants in this world – we don’t know how to navigate it, we don’t know what the rules are, and we’re totally out of our depth in controlling it.
We need to embrace technology. Our children’s world is a digital one, and if we’re not closing the gap we’re going to get lost on the other side of a chasm that we won’t even know how to bridge later on.
Like all things – relationship and communication are key.
Get involved online WITH your children. Use technology to enhance your relationship with them not to break it down. You need to educate yourself on the programs, places, and sites that they are into. Get onto them. Make yourself at home. Share it with them.
Let technology be a family thing. Use it together. Look things up. Share videos. Play games together. If you need to replace the board game with an online family game, so be it. Let them see technology as a way to connect with you not a place where you don’t belong.
You need to overcome your own fear of technology and the online world. Find a way to link it to what is important to you. Then link what’s important to you to what’s important to your kids. Make the connections. Communication is all about bridging two worlds – the world in my mind and the world in yours. Find ways for you and your children to connect through the technology and not in spite of it.
If you need to block something be clear about why. Communicate. Let your children be involved in the rule making around technology. Let them understand your concerns and the risks involved. Children are far more likely to follow any rules if they understand why they’re in place and have agreed on the consequences.
Technology is not going away. It is very much a part of your children’s lives. Find the good in it and enhance that. Use it as a tool to bring you closer together not further apart. Embrace the digital gap by becoming humble to learning from your kids instead of always being the teacher. It’s their world, and if you want to be a part of their world you need to be wise enough to admit that they are the masters of that world and you are merely a visitor. Be a welcomed visitor rather than a hostile invader. Embrace the digital gap and enjoy the ride that your kids will take you on.