Go Offline or Stay Online- Parenting in Digital Era


How to avoid digital addiction?

In the Cambridge dictionary, the definition of a vortex is " a dangerous or bad situation in which you become more and more involved and from which you cannot escape." Digital addiction is a vortex that engulfs many millennials and Gen Zers. Parents struggle to find ways to evade this addiction.

Digital addiction feeds on FOMO - the fear of missing out. Imagine, picking the phone to check email. Do we keep the phone back after checking email? No. We end up luxuriating on our favourite social media platform, e-commerce website or a gaming app. Notifications from apps are a hook for digital addiction.

Parents aged between 25-40, often referred to as Millennial, have adapted digital devices into their lives. On the other hand, GenZers are "digital natives" [Marc Prensky, 2001]. Children spend about two hours online every day, as per a study conducted by "Totally Awesome" - a children's digital engagement platform. 40% of the total internet users in 2018 were children.

An attempt to eliminate digital devices and internet usage from our child's life is futile. Accessibility of the internet is going to be facile. Additionally, schools integrate digital technology for teaching and learning. Devices like Google Assistant and Alexa, and products using AI are gradually becoming a part of our lives. Hence, it is essential to educate our kids on the use of digital technology wisely, instead of creating a vortex of digital addiction.

Digital detox and spending quality time with children is the most natural step in this endeavour. Be the role model and limit screen time when kids are around. For toddlers and preschoolers, learning games are a good use of digital content. Sing rhymes and read stories as an alternative to Youtube.

On average, quoted in the Kids Digital Media Report 2019 by PwC, children age between 6-14 years prefers Youtube to television. Teenagers spend considerable time on social platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, Tik-Tok and Facebook. GenZ, mostly under peer influence and FOMO, get pinned to the internet.

For tweens and teenagers, digital devices should not be the answer to boredom. Have a consent with the child and monitor online usage-content and time. Kindle and desktop might be an alternative to a smartphone and tablet. An online educational platform is judicious use of digital technology. Educate them about digital footprint on social media and cybersecurity. A better approach could be to discuss the effects of trending social media posts than shunning them.

Stay online to guard children online and offline.

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