It can be very difficult at times to pull your child away from that special video game that they love so much, and this is why it’s so important to prepare your children for the ‘online gaming world.’ A recent study from the Pew Research Center indicates that 59 percent of girls and 84 percent of boys ages 13-17 regularly play video games. Many of these games are played online and may involve multiple players.
In addition to safety and privacy concerns, parents must ensure that their child’s gaming activities do not become an addiction. When a gaming addiction develops, children may become detached from reality, resulting in negative consequences regarding their ability to socialize and regulate their emotions. In extreme cases, parents may need to look to a professional for help. However, there are steps you can take to help prevent this.
Setting healthy boundaries for your kids can help to guard against extreme gaming behavior. For example, ensure that children have their homework finished before allowing them to engage in gaming. Also, limit gaming sessions to a set time period of time. When finished playing video games, children should move on to other activities, engaging in active movement and social interaction with others.
Parents should also know the ratings on games, talk to their children about how they feel when they play, and even play these games along with their children to experience them first-hand. I know I do this quite often with my children, so I can see the kind of activity that is taking place within the game.
Here are some helpful talking points to help start the conversation with your child about video games and online gaming:
1. Can you show me your favorite game?
It is a good idea to get to know the games yourself and sit down with your child to let them show you how the game is played. Talk to your child about what they can do in the game they’re playing. What is the overall objective of the game? What do they like most about playing it? Is there anything about the game that they don’t like?
2. Can you play against other kids?
Some games have optional multi-player modes where your child can play with and against others. Make sure you’re clear on whether you are happy for your child to play with others. If you are, ask them who they are playing with. Establish rules around this that you can both agree on. Most games have a rating you can check to see if they are age-appropriate.
3. How much time should you spend playing?
It makes life a lot easier if you bring this subject up early on; it can be tricky to change well-established practices. Talk about why it’s important to have limits. It’s a good opportunity to talk about the importance of being active, being outdoors, and spending time in the company of other children, and striking that suitable balance is key.
Remember, it can be hard to enforce restrictions. It can also be difficult to accurately track the amount of time they are spending playing the game. Some devices allow you to use parental controls to strictly enforce daily or weekly limits. In many cases, the device simply switches off once the allocated time has been exceeded. While this is handy; it can be very frustrating for a child who is just about to reach a landmark in the game after a great deal of effort. We recommend not relying exclusively on parental controls, but use them to support your usual parenting approaches.
4. Can you chat with the other kids you are playing?
Many games allow players to chat with each other. Be sure to agree on rules around this, and ask your child about who they think it is okay to talk to online. Discuss your expectations around the type of language they should not use and how they treat others. Be very clear on the consequences of using bad language, being disrespectful, or not following the other agreed rules. The threat of withdrawing access to the game can be a good deterrent to bad behavior.
Check if the game gives the option of disabling chat and if there is a safe chat mode. Some games allow limited forms of chatting where gamers can communicate with each other by selecting from a menu of phrases.
5. What sort of information is NOT okay to share when gaming?
Explain to them the importance of not giving away any personal information online. In the case of online gaming, it is a good idea not to use real names for game profiles and not to share passwords with friends.
6. What would you do if something inappropriate happens when you are playing a game online?
It’s important that your child is familiar with safety settings, privacy and reporting tools. It is equally important that your child understands they can talk to you if they experience anything inappropriate online. This is also a good opportunity to encourage your child to play fairly and treat other gamers with respect.
Whether we like it or not, the online gaming world is here to stay so it’s best to be proactive and responsible when navigating this with your children. As much as we may think some of the games in this ‘virtual world’ are disturbing or are indoctrinating our children with bad behavior, these games are here to stay. We have to teach our children how to play and use these games responsibly.
After all, I can still remember when Nintendo & Atari were the ‘new gaming devices.’ There was a time when people thought a game called ‘Donkey Kong’ was violent because they hit each other. Nowadays kids are seeing things in these newer games that are a lot more disturbing than that, and in ten years those same people will be saying the same thing about the games of today.
Ultimately, the responsibility lies with us as parents. We have to teach our kids right from wrong, so when they are out in the ‘real world’ they will know the difference.
Online photo safety for kids should be on every parent’s mind. It’s not uncommon nowadays for photos of children to be posted online before they are even born, but is it safe? Announcing your pregnancy by posting a baby scan is a ‘thing’ on Facebook and Twitter. It doesn’t stop once there, a recent survey found that an average parent will post almost 1,000 photos of their child online before he or she turns five. We live in an age of “sharenting,’ so we have to learn how to navigate this new trend in a safe manner.
Our children learn most from watching us and copying what we do. If you want your child to only post photos when they have the consent of the people in them, ask their permission before posting photos of them. Likewise, if they ask you to remove a photo that they find embarrassing, take it down. The chances are your child will do the same if they find themselves in a similar situation.
There are no hard and fast rules for this topic, however, there are some things to consider before you hit the share button:
Edit your life:
Be selective about what you share online. Don’t post photos of everything that happens in your life no matter how cute you think your child looks in them. Think twice about sharing photos taken in bathroom and bedroom settings. You can’t control the context in which the photos will be seen.
Ask yourself will this photo cause my child embarrassment now or in the future?
Everything we post online creates a digital footprint and for young people maintaining a good online reputation is becoming increasingly important. Parents should consider any long-term risks of sharing photos of their children online. Some photographs have the potential to go viral.
Check Your Settings:
Social networks regularly update settings, so it is important to review your settings. If you are a regular user of Facebook, the social network allows users to do a Privacy Checkup which makes it very easy for users to understand who they are sharing content with.
Who will see my photos?
Ensure you are happy with your privacy settings and understand who may potentially see your images. It is a good idea to regularly review your friend/connections on social networks. Some networks, for example, Facebook allow users to limit/customize who they share posts with. Some things will always be public. Parents should beware that some posts/photos are always public for example; Twitter profile photos, Facebook cover images and featured photos.
Is your location service disabled?
Many social networks and apps allow you to share your location. Some people may not be aware that this function is automatically enabled on some apps and networks. Consider reviewing this when sharing family photos.
I realize that we ultimately want that ‘connection’ with people- to share our lives, our families, our children, and a great way to do this is through posting photos on social media and online. The virtual world has brought us an entirely new way of interacting and connecting with others, but we just want to ensure that we do so in the safest way possible.
Let’s do it responsibly, and you will find that if they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” we will be sharing beautiful novels with our friends, families and loved ones every time we post our cherished photos!
How do we keep children safe in the ‘online world? I know the ‘ordinary world’ we live in can be extremely difficult to navigate (especially with kids). The ‘virtual world’ is no different. Our responsibility can get even more complicated as parents. It makes me wonder how can we protect our children effectively in this ‘brave new world?’ How are we supposed to keep them safe from something that is nearly impossible to control?
Online Safety Tips for Kids:
I didn’t have a guide for how to handle the internet with my children, but now I do. Check out my top internet preparation tips to make sure going online is a positive experience for both you and your kids:
1. Discover the Internet together
Be the one to introduce your child to the internet, because for both us as parents and children it is an advantage to discover the internet together. Try to find websites that are exciting and fun so that together you achieve a positive attitude when it comes to surfing the web. This could make it easier to share both positive and negative experiences in the future so that your children will come to you for anything.
2. Set rules with your child for Internet use
Try to reach an agreement with your child on the guidelines which apply to Internet use in your household.
Discuss when and for how long it’s acceptable for your child to use the Internet.
Agree on how to treat personal information (name, address, telephone, e-mail).
Discuss how to behave towards others when gaming, chatting, e-mailing or messaging.
Agree on what type of sites and activities are OK or not OK in your family.
Follow the rules yourself! Or at least explain why the rules are different for adults.
3. Encourage your child to be careful when disclosing personal information
A simple rule for younger children should be that the child should not give out their name, phone number or photo without your approval. Older children using social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, should be encouraged to be selective about what personal information and photos they post to online spaces. Regardless of privacy settings, once material is online you can no longer control who sees it or how it’s used.
4. Talk about the risks associated with meeting online “friends” in person
Adults should understand that the internet can be a positive meeting place for children, where they can get to know other young people and make new friends. However, for safety and to avoid unpleasant experiences, it is important that children do not meet strangers they have met online without being accompanied by an adult you trust. In any case, the child should always have their parents’ approval first. In addition, it’s also a good idea to have a fool-proof plan in place such as calling them shortly after the meeting begins so that they can bail out if they feel uncomfortable.
5. Teach your child about evaluating information and being critically aware of information found online.
Most children use the internet to improve and develop their knowledge in relation to schoolwork and personal interests. Children should be aware that not all information found online is correct, accurate or relevant. Show your child how to check the information they find by comparing it to alternative sources on the same topic. Show them trusted sites they can use to compare their information.
6. Don’t be too critical towards your child’s exploration of the Internet
Children may come across adult material by accident on the web. Also, a child may intentionally search for such websites; remember that it is natural for children to be curious about off-limits material. Try to use this as an opening to discuss the content with them, and perhaps make rules for this kind of activity. We have to be careful but also realistic in our assessment of how your child uses the internet.
7. Let your children show you what they like to do online
To be able to guide your child with regard to Internet use, it’s important to understand how children use the Internet and know what they like to do online. Let your child show you which websites they like visiting and what they do there.
8. Remember that the positive aspects of the Internet outweigh the negatives.
The Internet is an excellent educational and recreational resource for children, so encourage your child to make the most of it and explore the internet to its full potential.
As we know, the internet is now part of our culture and it is here to stay. Since it is such a valuable resource for us as parents in many positive ways, it’s not something we should be fighting against, rather something that we need to embrace with our children in a healthy way. If we help them to develop these good online habits at an early age, these practices will stay with them through their adult lives and will help them to form a positive relationship with the internet, making their virtual world a healthy and safe reality.
As always, I’d love to hear which blogs resonate most with you! Feel free to reach out and message me on Facebook & Instagram!
Whether you’re a stay at home mom or a working mom, we all face similar challenges each and every day.
Ultimately, all moms have the same goal — to ensure our kids are safe by creating an optimal learning and growing environment as best we can. It can seem crushing at times. Between juggling school work, extra-curricular activities, household chores, and events with family and friends, it feels like every single minute of the day is booked up.
That doesn’t leave room for personal time for yourself. We do our best, but most days it all boils down to being able to do whatever we can to survive. Even though a lot of us are glad when the kids go back to school in the fall, that’s when the real business of being a mom kicks into high gear with all of the activities.
So, how’s a mom to keep from losing her sanity when school starts back?
One of the best ways you can gain order in your house is to set routines early. I know that a lot of people hate routines and talk about how stifling they are. Trust me when I say that routines will be your saving grace and will help you keep your sanity most days.
And the earlier you can do this, the better off you will be. Sure, there will be a lot of days when the routine may be thrown off track. Add flexibility to your routine as deviations in routines can cause upset otherwise. You need to be able to roll with the changes.
Why have a routine in the first place?
Because it will be that pattern of stability you can go back to when you need it. If the routine is already ingrained, it will be a lot easier to adhere to overall.
One of the biggest issues with scheduling time is from sports or extra-curricular activities. As parents who did not have these opportunities growing up, we work very hard to make sure our kids have the chance to take part in them. As they grow up, these activities allow them to explore what’s around them so they can figure out for themselves what they do and don’t enjoy.
Providing Stable Routines Help Children Grow in Their Independence
Besides expanding the boundaries of their world to include school, sports, and clubs, this is also the time when they are really settling into their own opinions and personalities. They’re not only looking outwardly, but also inwardly to assert their independence. Establishing a stable routine helps children confidently begin the process of taking on and increasing responsibilities.
It’s important to establish rules, boundaries, responsibilities, and discuss good and bad choices early on. We do this with the understanding they’ll take these life lessons to heart later on when their decisions will have greater consequences. We let them do as much for themselves as possible. I’m a firm believer in promoting their independence as a life skill so they don’t need to rely on others as they get older.
Of course, things aren’t always going to be perfect because nothing goes as planned every single day. Some days will be better than others, but one thing is certain—different challenges will come and go. All that we can really do if we want to be successful parents is to give our kids tools so they can tackle the challenges that will come their way in the next phase of their lives.
Picture this…your daughter has made it to her senior year in high school, she’s confident in herself, is a straight A student, top of her class, successfully juggles work, sports and school, everyone loves her, she has a good attitude, is ambitious, well rounded, and responsible. It’s basically everything you could ever hope for your daughter to become.
So why do we cringe then when people ask us, “so are you ready for the teenage years?” Why do most of us dread these years? Well we can’t help to feel that way when we hear stories like “my daughter committed suicide, my son is getting into fights at school, they are being bullied, my daughter is pregnant, my kids rebel at us every chance they get, getting into trouble with the law, and of course, my kids have major attitude.
BUT…..What if there was a magic pill that we could give to our kids that will guarantee they turn out like the perfect angel we envision them to grow up to be? Hah! Fat chance right?
The truth is that we can’t guarantee our kid’s teen years will be smooth sailing. Obviously we all know that much. As parents, we have the best of intentions for our kids. So if there is no magic pill, what would be the next best thing? A friend recommended, “Taking off to Hawaii for a few years to meditate and find enlightenment while the husband stays back and holds up the fort”. Sigh…if only that was reality.
In all seriousness, I do believe we as parents, can make or break these teenage years.
As a parent who has yet to go through this phase myself, there is tremendous value in learning from parents who have survived the much dreaded teenage years.
So I hope to share some advice that I have collected and some “things I would have done differently” from other parents that you and I may be able glean from to help us to best prepare ourselves and our kids through their adolescent life as best as possible. The more we know, the better we can prepare.
Always listen listen listen. Have a lot of discussions and talk with them about everything. Praise them when they share with you “So glad you were able to tell me that” So the communication ways stay open. You want them to come to you when they face a tough choice. Also have many talks about sex. Made huge difference in late teen sand early 20’s.
Set clear expectations and boundaries so that you can give them their independence and room to make mistakes and learn and grow from it
Teach money and responsibilities at an earlier age
Be more open minded
Encourage them to make their own decisions so they would become independent & self determined individuals
Don’t lecture, preach, or nag, but rather listen and guide them. Respect their thoughts
Earning money to get what they wanted. Saving more for it makes the appreciate and value life more. Teach then they can do and become who or whatever they dream, when they get out in the world, but for now do what I say when you’re under my roof
So I can pass on my bullet proof vest, cape, safety goggles and box of tissues and tell all of you to hold on, be consistent, set boundaries, learn to deflect the eye roll, monitor social media and communicate with your child as their parent
Too many outlets these days ie via social media so it allows them to avoid the issue instead of facing it. Social media makes heightens peer pressure, low self image and self esteem because it’s so easy to see your friends and compare yourself, even though it is all a facade.
Don’t fight with them to get your way. Work on compromise and problem solving with them. Let them take the lead on coming up with a game plan because that’s the only one that will work
Don’t give them everything they want, make them earn it themselves
Let them fall down a few more times in life. I look back and think I didn’t prepare them well enough for disappointment in the real world.
Set expectations but let them create their path (earn money, behavior, respect, set goals etc)
Provide structure and keep them busy in their younger years with activities so they have less opportunity to get themselves into trouble or associate with the wrong friends
Be 100% open and honest
Instruct them that they always have choices, but consider the consequence of each decision
would be more hands on with their goings and not so much freedom. Talk more
Never be so busy that you don’t have the time
Teach them to be a leader and not a follower.
All of these pointers are so important! Boy do we have a lot of work to do ahead of us to prepare. The one thing I have been hearing being repeated multiple times is to do whatever you can to make sure the line of communication is open. The last thing we want is for our kids to shut down and feel like they can’t come to us to discuss their problems.
If you have read this far, you’re probably thinking, “sure…easier said than done!” No doubt about it. All we can do is our best and hope for the best. What I do know for sure is that the earlier we can incorporate some of these skills and values into our kids, the easier it will be when our kids become teenagers themselves.
Among all the dreaded stories are the ones that give us new parents the hope that our kids will turn out ok. That we can trust them to make good and safe choices. Stories that inspires us to strive to experience the same kind of relationships with our kids and stories that we can look forward to for ourselves as well. So there is light at the end of the tunnel when you hear comments like these:
“I have 3 teenage girls 14, 16, 18 and 22 year old son. I am loving this stage of life more than any other stages so far”
“I’m loving the teen years so far!!!…I have 2 teenage boys, they’re like little men, with their own opinions and jokes! Fun time for sports”
“It has its definite stresses but I love it! The conversations are awesome”
“It is so fun to watch them grow into the adults they will be, and the conversations we have now I wouldn’t trade for anything”
So let’s get out there and raise our kids to grow up into strong, independent, and successful men and women of the future. Let’s not dread the teen years but instead, look forward to them and make them be the best years we possibly can.