With the internet taking over millennials and switching its stature from a luxury to a necessity, it comes with a lot of changes. Looking back upon the journey of technological advancements and the internet, one can observe how the graph climbed exponentially since the 1990s.
However, everything comes with a set of pros and cons, and the internet hasn’t been devoid of those either. This further makes it crucial for us to understand the setbacks and advantages to explore its utmost potential, and use it to our benefit. While adults might be able to trace their internet activities, young adults might not make responsible choices, which shall further impact them adversely and affect their developing personalities. Thus, they require parental supervision.
But it isn’t as easy as it sounds, because guardians – being digital migrants – have a very different understanding and approach towards technology, as opposed to their children who happen to be born in the digital era. This is where digital parenting comes into play.
Digital Parenting is in its nascent stage in India. It’s a developing skill through which the parents or caregivers and their children can explore technology together, ensuring “they use technology and don’t get used by it”.
It helps them to connect and improve communication, teaches best practices of internet use, and gives the parents/caregivers a better insight into the children’s activities and interests online.
Digital Parenting aims at preventing cyberbullying, exposure to pornography, extremist radicalisation, predatory behaviour, gaming addiction, dating scams, etc.
The youth are the flag bearers of social change, and they initially learn their values from their parents and caregivers. We should intend to create a more progressive community that takes the internet and digital platforms as a learning curve rather than an idea of resisted change.
Through Digital Parenting, the aim should be to address the following particulars among the digital community:
1. Online gaming: ‘It’s not a game, it’s serious business!’
Since online gaming went mainstream with games such as Counter-Strike and later PUBG Mobile, children glued themselves to the screen as they indulged in extensive virtual gaming. And with the boom of the gaming industry in India, professional streamers and gamers benefitted monetarily as well as gained recognition.
However, it also had a drawback which included young kids getting addicted to them. In multiple instances, children spent humongous amounts of money on ‘in-app purchases’ and even resorted to self-harm when the parents distanced themselves from their games and devices.
The grave addiction among kids has also resulted in hostility and detachment as per a study by Youth Online Learning Organisation, that further aims to resolve this concern in its initial stage.
2. How to explain pornography to a child?
Sex is a subject which has often been a taboo in our society and parents usually avoid discussing it with young ones. However, this ‘taboo’ label on sex negatively affects the children, such as little-to-no access to sex education, unrealistic expectations about sex with early exposure to pornography, etc. When the children receive no one to answer their questions, they resort to going online, resulting in exposure to pornography.
Pornography is known to have imparted unrealistic expectations of sex and sets a blurred line of consent. Emphasising the importance of sex education and making it an essential subject of discussion will minimise the ill-impact of pornography on young minds and thus, help in digital parenting.
3. The epidemic of cyberbullying and its solutions
Due to increasing internet and mobile penetration, children in India are at risk of cyberbullying. It is about time that we understand the need for proper monitoring and constructive communication with the younger ones to protect them from such events.
Furthermore, it’s crucial to understand how to utilise technology more efficiently. This will also empower the parents of today to condition their children better.
4. The faux in cyber is silent
In the real world, what we see is the truth, but the same cannot be said for the cyber world. It is imperative to note that nobody shows their negative, threatening, or darker side on the internet. Coupled with a fake image and a lifestyle, social media can have a terrible impact on the lives of children. Because of the ease of registering, it becomes effortless to create fake profiles, pretending to be someone else entirely. Although it is common, fake profiles lie on the line of identity theft.
5. Online dating norms and scams
Online dating scams are a very common occurrence on the internet. If one looks closely, they can easily find the difference between a fraud and a realistic profile on a dating site. But children cannot differentiate in the same way as adults can. It’s not just limited to scamming in terms of money, but older people also mislead young kids into relationships. This is detrimental, as well as illegal.
It’s essential for parents/caregivers to monitor their children’s social media activity and communicate with them constructively to weed out such occurrences.
The need of the hour at the moment is to realise that the only way to combat modern-day concerns is by adopting modern methods to resolve them. Digital parenting serves as the new-age methodology to care for young minds and make them aware of the virtual world before they are scarred by it.
Digital parenting will serve as a tool to condition the young ones through interactive and contemporary ways, which resonates with millennials. Minimising increased screen time for leisure activities and escalating the bar for conversation, explanation, and using the net informatively and creatively shall further make a difference.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)