It feels like I read and hear about new games and devices all the time and I’m worried I can’t keep up with what’s safe and what isn’t. I need to know where to go to stay on top of everything. What do you suggest?
Parents often ask how they can keep up with the changes in technology, so you’re definitely not alone. Even the sharpest tech minds can’t keep up with all the changes in tech! So rest-assured, you don’t need to be across everything. You don’t need to understand the latest social media app or game if your child isn’t on it or interested in it.
What we should be asking is, “how can I be across what my child is using and playing with?” and “what do I need to do to be able to support them to be safe and enjoy their time both on and off technology?”
Here are four ideas to help guide you on how to stay in the loop.
1. Ask your child about their technology use
If you want to stay up to date with digital technology in your child’s life, the best thing to do is go straight to the source. Weave chats about technology and how they use it into your daily life, like asking “what are you looking at on Instagram?” or “can you explain to me how TikTok works?”. Your child may shrug and ignore these types of questions, but it shows them you are interested in what’s important to them and part of their life.
2. Talk to other parents
Go offline and talk to parents about what they know about what their children are using. There is often one tech savvy parent, so get them to be your go-to for new information or someone you can ask any questions that you have. They can possibly give advice, allay your concerns or have a new game or idea that will be good for your child. Nothing beats getting a face-to-face chat going about technology and its role in our children’s lives.
3. Play and share technology with your child
If you’re not sure what your child is doing on digital technology, sit down and get them to show you. Most children will be keen to share their computer games and digital lives with you if you show an interest. Play a video game with your teen, get them to explain what they are doing and what they like about it. If you play with your child you will learn so much about technology and how they use it and its role and importance in their life.
4. Do some research
There are some great websites and blogs designed to discuss digital technology. Some places you can go to stay informed include:
- Common Sense Media, a leading global resource for games, videos and children’s content, including reviews from other parents.
- The Australian Classification Guidelines, an excellent place to go to get information and better understand how experts rate and classify what content is suitable for children.
- Blogs such as Wired, The Verge: Tech or GeekDad. While not always child-focused, they can be great for getting a bigger picture view of where the technology is headed and what children may be asking us to look at or purchase next.