By: Jacob Aldrich
Internet culture is becoming more of a mainstay in classrooms, homes, and everyday business and activities. But as we slowly become more involved in different aspects of the internet, it might seem that as individuals we are moving further apart in what interests their parents. While parents might be interested in videos over home improvement, or feel-good stories of celebrities or friends, kids usually find a multitude of sources of entertainment. These can range from videos about video games, streamers giving them a breakdown of their lives, or influencers peddling different products and lifestyle suggestions to them. This is just a small sample size of the available things for individuals, but it is a reflection of the fact that parents and kids sometimes have problems connecting with each other’s interests, and how it can be hard to talk with children about what they enjoy. A few changes and small actions can help turn parents’ attitudes around and help them feel more connected, and more quality time with their children as well.
Some of the easiest steps to take are just to simply listen more when their children are online and get to know their interests. Children love to talk and seeing that their parents take the time to sit and listen and actively engage with them, helps them feel a stronger bond with their parent, and want to share more. Taking the time to find out certain aspects of the child’s interests, either specific movies, games, or sports that the child is interested in, makes for more “real” conversations, and allows for more growth and bonding to occur.
The steps might also be different depending on how old the child is, as when they are still in early childhood it is a much different dynamic, than a child who is an adult and is more on-par and isn’t looking for a parent so much as a friend and advisor to look up to and talk. A child who is a teenager also is looking for more independent freedom and might not want to be as close to a parent, but making strides to show that you care and listen to them about their hobbies, can help to open up conversation points and create a casual, argue-free atmosphere.
There are also media-specific steps to take as kids become more enthralled with video games and streaming. If a child has been playing a game non-stop, and you notice it is something they are very passionate about, there could be an opportunity to sit down and talk to them about why they like it so much, if they want to play similar games, some of their favorite things about it. Parents should not always look for the quick shutdown if they feel their child is on a device too long, but look for opportunities to connect and try to see why they are playing it so much. This can be coupled with either a “device-free” mealtime, or a time designated for the parent and child to do an activity that both are interested in, watching a movie, taking a walk, cooking, etc. There are always different opportunities to connect, and parents should try to take some initiative to be active and curious about their children’s interests and passions. Parents might even discover it is something they might be interested in themselves!
- What activities do you enjoy doing with your child?
- Have you ever sat down with your child and talked about their interests and passions?
- What hobbies or interests do you share with your child, or would like to try to do?
- Are there things you want to try exploring and learning more about that your child does, or has mentioned?
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