Offline Parenting=Online Parenting

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Installing firewalls on the computer is not what online parenting is all about; Offline parenting is equally important to keep the children safe online. In other words, offline parenting compliments online parenting.

Our generation was brought up, more or less, in schools with a real blackboard, in homes where joint family used to be the norm, in playgrounds with real grass, real friends. Our children, however, are being brought up in a different world. It is connected via technology 24*7. Their schools have a digital blackboard, they live in nuclear family set up with both parents working and perhaps with no siblings to talk to and their playgrounds exist within their own rooms, or may be their hands in the form of gadgets.

We can differentiate between the two generations by naming them offline world and online world. But, looking at the excessive competition and scope of opportunities that the online world provides today, we can’t really dismiss the online world and call the offline a better one. In the present context, offline is as important as online. Same goes for the parenting structure. Being good offline parents makes you good online parents too. Here’s how.

Online parenting involves the process of knowing what sites your kid is browsing, how much time he is spending online, who he is befriending online, installing parental controls on the gadgets he uses, content filtering and the like. This way one can minimise the risk the child may be exposed to while online. On the other hand, offline parenting is saving the children from online dangers by involving themselves in their children’s lives positively.

Many parents do that by refraining from posting or sharing anything about their kids online, be it pictures, full names, their personal information, among others. This is how they protect their children’s identities from the predators and bullies in the big, bad world of internet. This is all good, but what offline parenting says is that parents start by understanding why their kids are online or why are they spending so much time there instead of being in the real world. Is it because they lack confidence to face the world on their own? Or may be because they feel more comfortable with their online friends and have no real friends? May be they feel like the black sheep in the family. It could also be because they do not have any exposure to other things that makes them go online to explore more.

If this is the case, then the first thing parents need to do is make a list of all things that they can do as a family to spend quality time together sans gadgets. Going out for family dinners, for instance, can be a start. Make it an unwritten rule that no matter what, the gadgets don’t come to the dinner table, even at home. How about going out for a jog together in the morning or evening? Enroll yourselves with an NGO for some voluntary work. The best thing to do is to make them love and look forward to the time spent with you. Got a nice camera? Encourage them to explore the world of pictures. Make them join hobby classes or sports that allow them to interact with others their age like football, cricket, basketball and others. They can learn how to be a good team player and also make some real friends with similar tastes.

The whole idea is to keep the children busy offline in activities that aim at their holistic development. Offline parenting is a smart tool that parents in the digital age need to use to keep their darlings safe.

 

BOX

 

Cut down on screen time by taking following steps:

 

  • All things that can be connected to the internet are kept at one place where the parents can watch their child’s activities online.
  • Putting limits on the time spent on texting, browsing the web is also a part of offline parenting.
  • Talking to the child about the dangers that the online world poses is most important.
  • Parents must set rules for being online and ensuring internet filtering by blocking sites that are not suitable for children.
  • They must be instructed and explained why they should never give out personal information online and that they should keep their online friends online only.
  • The children should know what cyberbullying is, they should be able to identify a sexual predator and most importantly they should be able to come to you and discuss what they see online and how do they deal with it. They should consider you their friend, someone they can turn to at any point in time.

 

About the author

Anu Bhambhani

Having worked with some of the leading names in the publishing industry, Anu is now an independent editorial consultant. After working for over 11 years, she is now working from home to be able to look after her little girl. When she is not writing (her first love), she is happy cooking, reading and learning nursery rhymes, a new one everyday to keep her toddler entertained and of course taking family vacations!

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