It can be argued that there has never been a more difficult time to be a parent. The way that technology has moved on in the last 20 years is breathtaking, and it has opened new opportunities and new horizons for people all around the globe.
While it is impressive to be able to browse the internet from your phone, to have shows and movies on demand through Hulu and Netflix, or to merely banking in your PJs, this new world does not come without risk. Specifically, that risk extends to children who are also finding themselves in an ever-changing digital world, but who don’t have the risk assessment necessary to know when something is good, and something is potentially dangerous.
Children learn their world by watching adult behavior. As we spend more and more time online or in the middle of digital anything, they want to do the same. They need necessary guidance and vital mentors from their parents to make the right decisions, the safe decisions, and the decisions that will let them explore in a way that you as parents can be comfortable with.
Here are four steps that you can take to ensure that your children playing Fortnite are chatting with friends safely and responsibly.
1. Know who they are talking to – This is the most natural step to take, but it is one that often gets overlooked. There is a fine line between letting your child develop their sense of privacy and being too oblivious to whom they interact with daily. A good rule of thumb is to encourage your child to only communicate and talk with people they have met, never adding strangers or friends of their buddies.
2. Encourage communication – Being a vital mentor means that your child is open to talking with you. All too often in the world today, we see parents and children that known nothing about each other’s life. You don’t have to be your teenager’s best friend, but you should certainly be able to talk to them enough to know what they are planning on doing on a Friday night.
3. Keep personal information safe – Anyone can hide behind a screen name; this is both a good and a bad thing. The wrong side is focused on often, with people preying on others or bullying them with no recourse. The flip side though is that your child is also anonymous. Make sure they understand that this is important, never sharing photos, real names, addresses, etc.
4. Set reasonable internet usage limits – Nothing is going to make a child act out more than being told what to do in a way that seems unfair to them. Workaround this by setting an internet limit, then offering incentives to increase it through insight into their world.
As with many topics concerning children, the key here is communication. Be open and honest about what you expect and be reasonable with what you want from them. The digital world CAN be a scary place, but it only doesn’t have to be that way.
Story by Steve Wright