Be a “cool digital-age parent” today!

How do you persuade your kid to ditch screen time for face time with you? First, plan out your approach before you hand over a phone and be cool…

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Are you grumbling “I already AM a cool parent!”? Or are you worrying “My child just doesn’t listen when I ask what they’re playing with on the phone like that…”?
Chong Ee Jay, manager of Touch Cyber Wellness and a member of the Media Literacy Council, says in the battle for face time against your child’s digital gadgets, your best bet would be to try to be “cool, digital-age parents”.

“There will always be a certain level of controversy and concern with regard to games, devices and social media — excessive amounts of time [spent on those media], inappropriate content etc.”

He points out that as parents, you will do your best to shield your child from age-inappropriate content. But there is always school and their schoolfriends “helpfully” showing your child their own games and chats, not to mention ads and shows on TV that make all these things seem so ultra-desirable.

He suggests that you turn this around on them, “Instead of shying away from [tech], why not work within appropriate boundaries and use it positively so that you promote and strengthen your parent-child bond and communications?”
How can you do this? Your best bet might actually be to get online….

“Instead of shying away from [tech], why not work within appropriate boundaries and use it positively so that you promote and strengthen your parent-child bond and communications?”

• If you know your child loves to play a particular mobile game, buy it yourself and learn the game (either by yourself or from your child). If you ask your child to teach you to play, it gives your child a chance to be your teacher, and gives you a chance to ask questions like “What do you like about this?” and talk about what you learned from it. Also, if you have access to the web, you can google for “game cheats” and how-tos and discuss these with your child.

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• When playing with your child on the phone/tablet/console, you can demonstrate how you yourself can get carried away — perhaps impacting something your child looks forward to? This could facilitate discussions about time management and cost from in-game apps.

• As with any situation that includes your child, you need to let them see that you are trying to be part of their world, and understand it a little. Then you can seize the opportunity (when it arises) to share any of your concerns — whether it’s about a specific game, or about a more general topic such as cyberbullying.

• And, of course, you need to model good digital behaviour yourself. When it’s family time, you should not be glued to your phone. Get off your own computer or Whatsapp and talk to your child and share some fun with them!

So how do you manage your child and their tech gadgets? Click next…

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