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Keeping Your Child All-Ways Connected In The Digital Age

Keeping Your Child All-Ways Connected In The Digital Age

Excessive online exposure may impair a child’s cognitive, emotional and social skills, but the internet is also a space for children to learn, interact, express their creativity, and be themselves.

Akmal Hakim

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Remember back when we were kids, and our parents would come and scold us to stop watching the TV or tell us that we’ve had enough of video games for one day because it was “rotting our brains”?

Well nowadays, we have babies who can barely speak, swiping away on smartphones and tablets like pros.

In fact, it’s been proven that children are more tech-savvy than their parents by the time they are 10 and are consuming, as well as creating, more media content than ever before.

This is, of course, no surprise given the convenience and accessibility that kids today have with gadgets and high-speed internet at home or on the go.

Here in Malaysia, about nine out of 10 children and adolescents between the ages of five and 17 are active on the internet and are spending more than three hours a day online.

Meanwhile, many schoolkids between the ages of 13 and 17 have their own personal social media accounts.

(Credit: pressfoto/Lifestylememory via Freepik)

So, are we supposed to scold and stop kids from spending too much time staring at screens and surfing cyberspace?

Excessive online exposure may impair a child’s cognitive, emotional and social skills, and make them more vulnerable to being bullied and exploited.

It’s been found that two out of five children have had bad experiences online that they don’t, and probably won’t, simply share with anyone and are also victims of unsolicited sexual content and communication.

However, the internet is also a space for children to learn, interact, express their creativity, and be themselves. And as the world progresses into the digital age, children require an online presence to Always be Ahead in life.

Every home should have a fast, reliable and stable internet connection to enable every child to learn and grow. With services (like Maxis Home Fibre) families can now stay All-Ways Connected and spend time learning and exploring the world together.

But how do we ensure our kids are safe online, become successful cyberspace citizens and not rot their brains?

(Credit: Freepik)

Limit and balance

One of the most critical steps in being safe on the internet is to limit our gadgets and internet usage. Families should aim to balance the time they spend online with an equal amount of physical activity like playing outdoors, or doing sedentary but productive activities, like reading books.

It’s recommended that toddlers below 1-year-old should not be exposed to gadgets and screen time at all and those aged two and up should have no more than one hour of screen time a day.

For older kids and teens, families can encourage healthy screen time and online habits by setting specific times and places to enjoy gadgets, like no phones at the dining table or no internet until home or school work is done.

Families can also set up extra security features to limit access to certain kinds of content that might be inappropriate for children. Parental control functions like SafeSearch mode on internet browsers or setting strict privacy settings on social media, mobile applications and video game accounts, especially for children, are advisable.

Everyone in the family should adopt proper online etiquette like respecting other people’s opinions and privacy as well as remembering that anything we do, say, or share online would probably stay on the internet forever.

Monitor, share and be open

Aside from learning to stay ourselves from excessive internet use and being respectful online, families should, of course, spend time together doing digital activities.

Families can learn and explore content together and even have fun with it by making activities to do in a group like playing games, watching movies and seeing who can share the funniest memes.

The adults of the household must also endeavour to be role models and provide the best examples for the youngins. One can’t expect kids to limit their screen time or be courteous online when the grownups are spending hours watching videos on their phones or making hateful comments on social media.

We must also learn to keep an eye out for signs that a family member, especially children, is in distress like being withdrawn, secretive, upset or obsessed with their online activities.

Essentially, families should create an environment of trust where everyone can openly communicate and share their experiences online whether they’re good or bad. Make sure that everyone in the family knows that if they experience anything upsetting, scary or uncomfortable, they can seek advice from others without being ridiculed.

Watch the video below to learn more about how you can keep your child safe with their gadgets and how they can use the internet to achieve a brighter future.

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