Thanks to the internet and technology, children have an entire virtual world at their fingertip. They can play games and chat with friends and learn and discover things. While digital activity comes with many benefits, it also has huge risks.
It’s imperative that parents establish control over their children’s use of technology. This guide focuses on the main pointers on how to strike the right balance and minimize the risks!
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What Are the Risks of Children’s Digital Activity?
There are two main risk types for kids in the digital world. The first category is one affecting their health, and the other can influence their overall safety. Understanding the risks can raise your awareness of balancing your child’s digital activity.
Obesity and Behavioral Problems from Too Much Screen Time
Some reports indicate that US children spend up to seven days in front of a TV, smartphone, and other screens. That could lead to the following:
- Obesity. Time in front of a screen usually means the child is in a sedentary position. The lack of physical activity combined with eating snacks and unhealthy food can lead to obesity.
- Attention problems. These usually come from a disrupted sleeping pattern. For example, if the child spends too much time playing games on the phone before bed, they’ll have problems concentrating in school.
- Behavioral issues. Spending time in front of a screen and not with other people affects social skills negatively. Violence, depression, and anxiety are other common behavioral issues.
Cyberbullying, Online Predators, and Other Dangers
The virtual world is full of dangers to the children’s safety. According to studies, 60% of kids have witnessed cyberbullying, and 47% have been victims. It can occur in surprising environments. For example, someone might offend or humiliate children while playing an online game.
Apart from bullying, other threats include:
- Online predators. Sexual predators often create fake profiles to get close to children. They claim to be friends and offer gifts to lure kids into high-risk personal encounters.
- Publishing private info. If your child’s profile on social media is public, a predator could learn their whereabouts. Kids must understand the dangers of sharing sensitive info online.
- Fishing and other scams. Tempting links could make children download malware and harm the computer or smartphone. Phishing and other scams with the goal of taking their money are also common.
How Can You Optimize Children’s Digital Activity?
Understanding the importance of balancing kids’ digital activity is the first step toward making them safer in the virtual world. Check out these steps that could assist you in making the digital world risk-free!
Talk to Your Children and Establish Trust
The crucial move is to create a bond with your children. Sit down and discuss so they understand you only want the best for them. Encourage them to create their social media profile together. That way, you can check all content and privacy settings.
You can talk about the websites they visit or even play online together. It’s an excellent part to become a part of their virtual world and ensure they won’t avoid you. Finally, if they notice anything suspicious, they should let you know immediately. Once they do, don’t judge them, but try to help and explain the problem.
Limit Time Spent in Front of the Screens
The time toddlers spend in front of the screen shouldn’t be longer than an hour. As children get older, you can increase this time, but try to keep it reasonable. It’s smart to create screen-free times, such as late evenings. You can get parental monitoring apps for your kid’s safety and install them on your children’s devices. They will automatically lock at times you choose. Additionally, you can get reports and alerts of suspicious messages on your phone;
Set an Example and Suggest Fun Activities
Playing games on the computer and watching TV sounds fun. You don’t want to be the bad parent that forbids that. But if you limit screen time and replace it with fun activities, it’s something your children will love. These could include going on walks or riding bikes together, playing board games, etc.
In the modern world, it’s not easy to navigate between the benefits and risks of technology. It’s a part of children’s everyday lives, and you don’t want them to miss out. However, keeping their digital activity balanced will minimize potential health and safety risks.
Featured Image by Vince Scott from Pixabay