Read these expert tips from Singapore’s Better Internet Campaign to ensure your child behaves safe and responsibly online and on their smartphone
Wondering what the best age to get your child a smartphone might be? Do you have basic Internet rules in mind but are unsure how to enforce them? Do you want to balance trust in your child while ensuring they are safe online? We recently spoke with Dr. Yuhyun Park, Founder of the DQ Institute, to get her advice on concrete ways to promote a healthy digital intelligence within the family. Her tips are part of Singapore’s Better Internet Campaign, which is all about promoting safe and healthy online behaviour for the whole family. For even more info, click here to download Dr. Park’s DQ Parenting Guide, and click here to download a special media guide just for Dads!
As a Parent: Think “TOP”: Talk, Obey, Play! Education often comes in conversation. If kids can talk, obey, and play constructively with parents regarding their digital lives, then we can have some confidence that they’re coping well with the challenges and opportunities of the digital world and are probably okay to use mobile devices with some supervision.
TALK: What kinds of games or activities do they do online?
Once a month, ask your kids to share their latest favorite online game. As a parent, we should be cautious of new games, but we should also try to be sincerely interested in what our kids are experiencing. It’s one of the easiest ways to learn what’s really going on in their lives. And thank goodness, because it’s a constantly changing Digital World that’s quite tough to keep up with!
- “TALK” Prompts:
- Show me your favorite game. Are you good at it?
- Can I try it? Can you teach me to play it?
- Which friends of yours like it? Are they better than you?
- Which social media is best these days? Why?
- Have you ever seen something strange or unusual? What was it?
- Would you come to me if someone made you uncomfortable on social media? Why or why not?
OBEY: We help many kids and parents co-create “family media rules” that say when and how devices will be used.
These rules aren’t just for kids, but for parents, too. It takes negotiation for sure: If we want kids to not use devices one hour before bedtime, then maybe we parents should also not check our phones during dinner or movies. By setting limits for everyone and respecting them, they carry more weight and bring us together.
Better yet, by talking and actively listening, many parents say that kids actually remind parents of what the rules are! They want to show they’re in control of their gaming.
- “OBEY” Tips:
- Use the DQ Parents Guide as a starting point. Create your own family media rules / contract. Ensure everyone participates. Specifics include:
- Must-complete priorities before playing video games
- Designated family times / events where we won’t use our devices
- Where / when we can/can’t use digital devices (e.g., 1 hour before bed; in the bathroom; at the dinner table)
PLAY: Remember to Ditch the Screens and Get Active
In Singapore, we’re lucky to have so many healthy activities to do. Make sure to supplement online activities with healthy ones that are just as fun. Sometimes a healthy activity – like cycling outdoors, bouncing at a trampoline park, or inviting friends over to make dinner – is a welcome shift that brings kids and parents together. It works, whether kids are behaving safely, or not.
Thank you, Dr. Park! For more information, be sure to visit www.dqworld.net so your child can take a Digital Assessment Test to see if they’re ready for a smartphone or more online independence.
The Better Internet Campaign is organised by the Media Literacy Council