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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

10 Tips for Raising Children in a Digital World

By Robyn Wright

The world never stops changing and each new generation of parents has their own challenges in raising their children. There are always new things that our parents did not have to address or even think of. For parents today, one of the biggest challenges is raising children in a digital world.

Not only do we have to learn how to use technology for ourselves, but we also have to teach our children how to use it safely and responsibly. While our kids may understand how to use smartphones, tablets and other devices faster than we can, they still lack the life experience and skills to recognize some of the many dangers. This is our job as parents. Here are ten suggestions that can help:

1. Have ongoing conversations with your kids
Always maintain an open dialogue with your children about their digital activities. A one-time chat about not sharing their home address is not enough. Have regular discussions about the pros and cons of the Internet and using technology in everyday life.

2. Set allowable time limits
Establish exactly how much time your children can devote to technology when they are young. As they grow up you can expand those times as needed. If you wait until they are older to try to establish limits, you will have a very hard battle on your hands!

3. Talk to other parents and caregivers
The digital world is everywhere. While you may have rules to follow and safeguards in place in your own home, your kids go other places too. Make sure you share your guidelines with parents of your children’s friends and other caregivers. You may have to help educate them as well.

4. Use parental controls
There are an abundance of parental controls available. Try different options to find out what works for you and each of your children. Don’t be afraid to use different layers of controls. Always remember that no parental control is foolproof. Our kids have ways of working around such controls, which is why the other steps are also important.

5. Set rules in writing, including consequences
Having rules, guidelines, expectations, time limits, etc. in writing makes it very clear for your kids and you. Include the consequences for not following these rules on the same list, such as loss of device privileges.

6. Know their passwords
If your kids are old enough to use social networks or email, make sure you know their passwords, so you can check on their activity if there is a problem.

7. Teach about phishing and scams
Our children often lack the experience to recognize phishing e-mails or other Internet scams. It is important to explain to them what the scammers are trying to do. Give them examples of how the bad guys work and the different techniques they use.

8. Ask your kids for help
Letting your children teach you about things is incredibly empowering for them. It shows that you value their opinions and understand that they are knowledgeable. Ask them to show you how to make those cool photo edits or add music to your phone.

9. Don’t spy on your kids
Don’t install anonymous tracking programs or use other forms of spying on your children. Instead, let your kids know what you expect to see and what you will check on. Have those conversations regularly. Only in very extreme cases should you ever consider not letting your kids know what you are doing.

10. Use real life news stories as teachable moments
Sadly, there are an abundance of negative stories about online bullying, identify theft, predators, and other problems in the digital world. When appropriate, use these real life stories to talk with your kids and help them understand the dangers. On the flip side, also quote stories where people use technology to bring about positive changes.

Robyn Wright is a social media specialist and blogs on her own blog, RobynsOnlineWorld.com, as well as several other sites. Robyn has a love for family, technology, food and lots of apps!

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