Which Digital Parenting Style Describes Your Family’s Tech Habits?
Most parents want to protect their children from harm. This is especially true in today’s world, when threats to a child’s safety and well-being can enter your home in digital form. Responsible parents protect their children from digital dangers by using parental control and phone monitoring apps. These tools are useful, but they aren’t the only skills you need to raise digitally responsible children.
You must also know your digital parenting style. Those who work with children recognize three main styles of digital parenting.
The limiting parent
Some parents say no, especially to any technology. They think that eliminating technology reduces the likelihood of digitally tainting a child’s intellectual development. They only way to keep their children safe is to keep them away from all technology. Withholding technology is often easier when children are younger. Once they enroll in school, it’s much harder to prevent technology access, but by then, children lag behind their peers in both technology skills and responsible behavior.
Ignoring or hiding technology won’t lessen its presence or importance. In fact, the opposite happens. Children intentionally seek it out and misuse the technology.
The enabling parent
Enabling parents show an extreme amount of trust in their children’s ability to navigate technology responsibly. While these parents are not entirely hands-off in their approach to digital parenting, they allow their children a considerable amount of free rein when it comes to making technology decisions, especially in the use of the internet. Enabler parents may check in occasionally to see how things are going, but the conversations about technology use are often superficial, with little to no follow-up.
Showing a lack of digital boundaries increases the likelihood that children with communicate online with strangers or get involved in other online misbehavior. By digitally enabling children, parents who set no boundaries are setting their children up for unsafe behavior.
The mentor parent
Think of this digital parenting style as guiding your child from the side. These parents often sit with their children whenever they use technology. They may play digital games together, communicate electronically via chats or video with distant family members, or they may conduct research together. The parent is there to advise and teach. OF all the digital parenting styles, the mentor approach is the one that helps children make responsible and safe choices when it comes to using technology.
Children who have mentoring parents are far less likely to engage in inappropriate online behavior than peers parented in other styles.
The neglectful parent
There’s also a fourth style of digital parenting that Dr. Linda Papadopoulus describes as neglectful. This digital parenting style is a do-whatever-you-want-because-I-don’t-care approach. This style is the result of not taking time to communicate with your children. Laissez-faire, neglectful parents fail to engage with and guide their children. As a result, the child is left to his or her own decision-making judgment. Ignoring your child’s technology exploration can result in destabilization. Children who receive no guidance are less likely to function well in a digital world.
It’s up to you to decides which digital parenting style works best for your children. You may even want to consider a blended approach. You could limit the use of some technology for younger children and increase the amount of trust you place in older children who have earned it.
Most parents want to be a part of their child’s technology use, both at school and at home. Your digital parenting style can determine how well your child can navigate their technology and be a responsible digital citizen.