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How to Become a More Tech-Savvy Parent
Everywhere we go, we carry tiny computers in our pockets. We can answer any question within seconds using Google or we can live stream movies or hours of footage of the Kardashians from pretty much anywhere. There’s even Wi-Fi on Mount Everest.
Technology is everywhere and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. iPads are standard practice for kids, and books—like analogue clocks—are a thing of the past. Many of our kids know how to navigate the web before they’ve figured out how to make their beds.
If you’re a parent who struggles to turn on an iPad, it may be time to think about catching up with the digital world your child has been raised in.
But just how do you become a more tech savvy parent without spending a fortune?
1. Be open to learning new things
Not everyone is a genius with computers and some people don’t want to embrace new technologies or give new devices a go. Goddamn new-fangled technology!
If the last computer you used took a minute to load a page or the sound of dial tone is more common to you than the silent sound of broadband, it’s time to start playing catch up.
If you’re a complete beginner (how are you reading this?), you could try doing a basic computer course to get you started. This is a great way to get someone to walk you through the process of logging on and accessing the online world.
There are plenty of other free resources to get you started. The internet boasts an endless supply of free learning tools; this includes everything from detailed tutorials to basic video guides.
If you don’t want to rely on the internet to teach you the ways of the digital lands, you can pop into your local library. Most libraries have an extensive section dedicated to ‘how-to’ style books. Check with the librarian to score a copy of any of the many books that’ll teach you basic tech skills.
There’s a lot to be said for trying out technology yourself too. You might be afraid you’ll break it, but tech is tougher than it seems. One wrong button push isn’t going to make your laptop explode into a fiery ball. Given that tech is becoming an important part of education, borrowing or getting your hands on a basic tablet or laptop is a good idea too.
Most of us learned by pressing the ‘on’ button and taking it from there. There is never a bad time to learn and it could even open a few doors in your own life.
Most importantly, think of the learning process as an opportunity instead of a chore. If you’re interested in music, sports or even extreme ironing, try using technology to explore those areas. It’s always easier to learn when you’re doing something you enjoy—and it’s a good way to discover the benefits of tech.
Just wait until you’re doing your ironing on top of Everest!
2. Don’t be afraid of technology
One of the biggest stumbling blocks for people who might tick the Luddite box is the fear of doing something wrong. Yoda might have been wrong about fear leading to the dark side, but fear is still a powerful emotion. How many times have you said no to something because you were afraid?
Even if you normally run away at the sight of a computer, there is no reason that you can’t learn. The important thing to remember is that you’re not going to break the internet. Sure, you might type a bit slowly or get confused by a pop-up box, but trying is the key to learning.
Try new things and test out how different sites work by going into them. Experiment with these sites and see what happens. Worst comes to worst, you’ll need to call one of your kids to rescue you when all your tabs spontaneously shut off.
Be prepared to make mistakes and don’t be too hard on yourself when you’re still learning.
Let’s pop back to dear old Yoda again: do or do not. There is no try.
3. Get on your kids’ level
Your kids are likely to roll their eyes at you if you try to advise them on how to use various apps and sites, especially if you get the wording wrong or start talking in vagaries about how you heard about a thing that happened to a person who may or may not have been on Yik Yak. Or was it Whisper?
We’ve all heard the nightmare stories about parents heading out for a weekend and the kids destroying the house. These things do happen. Your kids know that these things happen too. You can talk to them, but they’ll likely only listen if you sound like you know what you’re talking about.
Remember how you’d roll your eyes at your parents when they’d warn you about the dangers of microwaves and how the radiation would ruin your brain? Did you listen to them? Exactly.
If your child has social media accounts, you could get an account of your own. This will allow you to familiarise yourself with these sites, to keep an eye on them, and to learn about any possible risks. Just don’t spam them with embarrassing messages or you’ll find a cold front taking over the house.
Get ready to have an informed discussion with them about the internet and to establish boundaries. They might be grumpy when you make them go outside (oh the horror!), but they’ll get over it fairly fast.
Parents: have you ever wondered what type of Cyberparent you are? or wanted to learn more about how to keep your kids safe while gaming online?
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