Children's increased online presence requires an increase in conversation

COVID-19's ability to affect change is evident in the increase in remote work, unemployment, and empty streets worldwide. The rapid rate of change is a struggle for adults worldwide. During these difficult times, parents and guardians must remember that children are affected too. As governments worldwide urge citizens to stay home, schools have shuttered, playdates have stopped, and our children depend more on technology. Some children are fortunate enough to be able to receive eLearning and have play dates electronically. Other children play online games and use chat services to stay connected with their friends. Parents may enjoy these services and trust that their kids are better off because of it. But, like everything else in life, parents need to moderate and teach their loved ones how to use the services safely. There is an abundance of tools to monitor time usage and filter content. No matter which means you chose to protect your family, you have not done enough. It is imperative that you also talk to your children regularly about the perils of the internet and the importance of them being responsible and respectful digital citizens. There are no tools that can replace this responsibility. For young children, the conversations should focus on the ideas of asking questions and digital bullying. Discuss how it can be even easier to hurt feelings and communicate clearly without face-to-face discussions. For older children, dialogue on required behavior, along with a contract (maybe even signed), reminding them of their responsibilities to protect themselves and their friends can reinforce the importance. Like every aspect of life affected by COVID-19, we see people giving everything to help and other people that are out to profit and take advantage. Talking to your family now can help focus your children on the safe side of the fence.

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