I have recently developed an urge to have a closer look at this topic especially now that there is a lot of discussion about how much data the 5 big tech companies(commonly referred to as FAANG-Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google) are collecting from us. The question that comes to mind is; How much damage is the attention economy causing to us but most especially to our young ones who are still in their formative stages of life. According to Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google, it’s “shaping everything about contemporary life”. It’s a world we all live in – even if we don’t know it.
What can we do as parents to understand a little more about technology that is readily available to our children?
We have to be comfortable with learning new things. It takes some initiative by parents to make time from their busy schedules to try and understand what their kids are doing online and how that might impact their formative years. I will cover a few strategies here as a starting point for anyone who is concerned.
Interest: Start by showing interest in what your child is doing by asking questions. Listen carefully and then do your own research about what you are hearing. Technology is ubiquitous and gaming is at the center of what our children spend most of their time on.
It is possible for kids to play games with their contemporaries all over the world. Use the internet to research a little bit about what games your child is playing, you do not have to write a research paper about it. Just be informed enough so that you can ask relevant questions when having a conversation with your child. This will act as an indicator to your child that you are interested. Make your child a partner and do not act like the police probing a criminal case, because you will get resistance.
You have to build an environment of trust, where your child feels like responsible gaming(just an example) is good for everyone in the household. Discuss the pros and cons of it all.
Be a little savvy: This comes back to interest but a step further to understand how you can find out what your child is doing online. The’re very many tools you can use to protect your children but also to understand what they spend time on when you notice some suspicious behavior. Make sure your child understands that you have the capability to check but again we do not want to spy but to guide. I will delve into the tools that we can use as parents to achieve this in my next article about this topic.
Live by example: Practice what you preach in the way that you use technology yourself, especially in the home. Do you scroll through social media on the dinner table? Do you binge-watch series over the weekend? Do you watch porn? Actions speak louder than words and our children watch our actions way more than what we say. This is something that I will expound on as I continue with this series.
The three points I have touched on are the tip of the iceberg. I will be delving into this topic in more detail in the coming months and I will have discussions on it on my podcast, Digitalhustle africa.
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