We are raising kids who are growing up digital with a smartphone in hand. Today’s screen-addicted children use these devices at an even younger age for entertainment and education. Despite being always connected, many miss out on the chance to interact and connect with their peers offline. Some experts have not shied away from declaring them a destroyed generation.
Parents worry a lot about their kids’ access to the internet, which has had adverse effects on preteens and teenagers. It is a hunting ground for online predators and cyberbullies.
Adults are equally, if not more, disengaged and complicit. Besides parental distraction, we introduce our children to this world by posting countless images of them without permission right from birth. Something’s got to give.
Enter Diana Graber, a digital literacy educator at the forefront of advocating for online safety and literacy. She is author of the book Raising Humans in a Digital World. It aims at helping kids nurture a healthy relationship with the saturated world of technology, instead of denying them that opportunity.
The safest approach is for parents to deny access to devices, streaming, and social media. But isn’t that shortsighted? Diana Graber suggests that this only serves to deny your child the possibility to thrive in a connected world. She makes a powerful case for empowering children to understand how to responsibly and ethically use digital media.
With years of experience in her field and as a parent, Diana offers a very relatable and compassionate approach to real-life situations. Raising Digital Humans is thorough with tools and resources to help caregivers and educators minimize misuse and enhance safety online. The practical at-home activities offer ongoing support, set boundaries, and keep children responsible.
Key takeaways from the book
- The digital space is an opportunity for children to thrive in and express themselves fully. It’s up to parents to help minimize the risks and maximize the benefits.
- It’s okay to worry. The internet bubble children forge for themselves unknowingly takes advantage of their consumption habits.
- Block suspicious sites and set parental controls if you can. Recent internet safety proposals ironically grant more access to encrypted personal data to “fish out” malicious hacks from child exploitation.
- Put the age restrictions for social-media sites into consideration. There’s no reason for a preteen to access and sign up for TikTok despite its popularity. The entry threshold for most social media sites is 13.
- Be intentional with your own screen use and pay attention to their needs. Limit media use by designating tech free times and places for everyone in the household.
- Cultivate healthy habits early on with activities appropriate for each stage of life. Co-viewing and co-engaging are essential for their age to enforce good practices. For instance, at age 5, you could write and send an email together to a friend or family member. At 11, you could help with their school research online.
- Be an exemplary role model. Educate them openly on the importance of cyber safety in the real world to prepare them for the online experience.
Today’s kids risk exposing themselves to harmful and inappropriate content. Raising Digital Humans is an insightful book that seeks to balance healthy media use and limit misuse to keep them safe online.
The Cyber Spying Glass by A. M. Marcus is a delightful and insightful bedtime picture book for your preteen. It demonstrates the importance of kids being cautious online.