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How to Protect Your Child from the Downsides of Online Life

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

Children playing with ball in a foggy forest

Does your child spend a lot of time online? Are you worried about the impact it might have upon them? Then you need to read this article, where you’ll find tips on how to protect your child from some of the downsides of online life.

The Internet can be overwhelming for children, and even adults sometimes experience negativity online. So, what are some of the best things you can do to protect your young ones?

1. Hold Off For As Long As You Can!

Early access to the Internet and gadgets can have a negative effect upon a young child's social and emotional development. By allowing your toddler to use tablets and smartphones, you may be impeding their cognitive development, speech, and social skills. Young children need the chance to play and interact with other children. They thrive when talked to or played with. Don't worry about them falling behind technologically, they will have more than enough screen time in their lives and be able to quickly catch up later on.

2. Maintain a Balance Between Real and Virtual Life

Nothing is more precious than spending time together as a family. Sharing meals, walks in the park, riding a bike, playing with siblings and cousins, building a snowman—activities like these are extremely important to childhood. Sure, watching cartoons and TV shows can also be a part of childhood, but balance is key. Try to engage your child in real-life activities as much as possible. Then, if there is something they really want to watch on a screen, watch with them! Be sure to discuss what you see. This will help them develop balance and help you maintain a firm but guiding presence in their life.

And remember, traditional toys like blocks and puzzles can be just as fun as any computer game!

child's hands playing with blocks

3. Become An Example

The old truth, “start with yourself,” applies aptly to technology. Don't forget to control your own online behavior and the amount of time you spend in front of the TV and computer screens. Your children will certainly pick up on how often you look at the smartphone in their presence, and very soon, will wonder "why can you be online, but I can't?."

Gradually, teach children to use the new technology consciously. Set family rules, have dinners or even a whole weekend without gadgets, set alarms and set reminders, or download special programs to track time on the Internet. Explain why this is needed and demonstrate the benefits of this approach.

4. Mind the Content

Parents need to be aware of what their child is seeing on the Internet. For example, games and sites "for adults" can contain sexual scenes and violence. Viewing such content can cause harm to your child's development, potentially leading to behavior problems in the future. If you discover that your child has stumbled upon aggressive or inappropriate content by accident, it is imperative that you talk to them about it. Explain what they've seen (in a developmentally appropriate way), and help them cope with any negative emotions the content may have caused.

If you observe a disturbing change in the behavior of your child, you can always consult a specialist. The choice of a specialist is critical; be sure to select one who comes highly recommended and has experience dealing with the behavior problems you observe in your child.

The four simple suggestions can help you raise a child who has a happy and healthy relationship with technology.

Author's Bio

Jane Travis works as a manager at a large marketing company. She holds a degree in Marketing and undertakes different courses in Economics and Management to broaden her knowledge. She aims at helping others master their skills by sharing her writing services through articles.

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