As the debate about whether the internet is safe for children rages, The State of the World’s Children 2017: Children in a Digital World discusses how digital access can be a game changer for children or yet another dividing line. The report represents the first comprehensive look from UNICEF at the different ways digital technology is affecting children, identifying dangers as well as opportunities. It makes a clear call to governments, the digital technology sector and telecom industries to level the digital playing field for children by creating policies, practices and products that can help children harness digital opportunities and protect them from harm.
We are now citizens of the global village thanks to the internet. As adults, part of our challenge is that we were not brought up in the sphere of sophisticated technology that our children presently reside in and as custodians of their internet experience we may inadvertently limit them.
Children have expressed a great affinity for the Internet and though this is crucial to their growth and development, if it is not monitored and safety mechanisms put in place, then it could be counterproductive.
Do you remember the first time you opened an email account? It is unthinkable for a teenager to understand how people survived without a constant connection. These days, conversations about play dates with some children do not begin with phrases like, “Do you have a Bike?” A question that may be heard is “What is your Wi-Fi password?
Our children have the privilege to learn more than we did using technology. Instead of fighting the tidal wave, let us consider embracing technology and look at the up side of raising tech savvy kids.
Peer influence is important and children now also gain a sense of belonging when using technology with their peers; just the same way we belonged when included in team games when growing up.
- Do not discourage technology, encourage it and learn more about it with your children.
- Moderate the use of technology (screen time) to allow for other physical and mental stimulus for the child’s mind and body.
- Observe age appropriate restrictions during use of technology.
- Maintain your bond. Do not replace face to face communication with technology.
- Be a role model user of technology for your children.
The Internet is here to stay and with the continued innovation, social networks are going to be countless. The time to start integration towards constructive use of the internet by children and young adults is now, before we become overwhelmed. Parents, teachers, guardians or caregivers should therefore start by keeping up with the trends and expanding their knowledge base.
To download The State of the World’s Children 2017 Report, click on the following link https://www.unicef.org/publications/index_101992.html