When it came to screen time I was always a momster. Before the pandemic swept the world, my kids had a restricted screen time policy during the week. Half an hour of TV time and 20 minutes of gadget time for playing games with their friends, that’s the most they were allowed. I encouraged kids to go out, meet friends and meet people in real, rather than sit behind the screen for hours. However, COVID-19 is a loud call for all parents to rethink and reimagine the way kids use technology. From education to gaming to interaction with peers, everything has shifted to digital. Hence as parents, we need to not only set guardrails but also accept and adapt to the usage of technology by our kids. I have come to realize that we need to grow with the generation and adapt to a new kind of lifestyle. In the age of digitalization, we shouldn’t restrict our kids completely but monitor their doings and explain to them the pros and cons of the internet. So, here’s What We Need to Do.

Teach digital manners

Just like we teach our kids table manners, we should mentor our kids in digital etiquette and cover topics like oversharing and cyberbullying. If we are the boss, we can spy at every little thing our child searches, opens and sends on the Internet. But as parents we should teach those lessons so that we can sleep well at night knowing they are well-guided. The more walls we build, the more we are just creating little hackers who are just trying to get around the fence. The digital world is fascinating and sometimes dangerous too. So, we should explain to them in simple terms.
My child has built a habit of asking me before clicking on any unknown links. Our understanding is, he is the junior officer protecting us against enemies in the digital space and anything suspicious he must report to the chief officer i.e. me.

Differentiate between productive time and unproductive time

Few years back, whenever my kids would be in front of the screen, I used to think, they are wasting their time. But as parents we must adapt too. My 10-year-old is able to move through Google Drive to Google Doc and upload assignments so fast. I, on the other hand, am still figuring which icon to press. Not all digital time is the same and as parents, we need to think about time limits versus content limits. If our kid is creating something on a digital device, that’s time being spent differently than time spent mindlessly surfing the Web.
Both my kids are learning how to code simple computer programs. We decided to use this lockdown to arm them with skills that they could need in the future. So, I have to say that all the time spent online isn’t that bad. We need to create blocks for entertainment as well as learning to get the best out of them.

Get up to speed

Whether it is prental control, finding the usage of various social media tools or how to use all the tech our kids are using, we parents need to keep learning too. We may not know everything about technology but we don’t want our kids flying blind or making up their own rules as they go.
The very other day my kid could not raise his hands on the online platform that his school is using and had I had to learn it on the go and teach him. So why not be prepared from before?

Face-to-face relationships are still important

Sad as it is, the only way our kids are connecting with their friends and maintaining their friendships and sanity is by using their devices. What does that say about our world today? We also need to help them develop healthy self-esteem that transcends all the comparison, exclusion and petty comments that might come on their social feeds. The mental strain of not meeting their friends, still feeling ‘cool’ in front of their friends virtually, the effects of the unknown with the COVID situation can really put a strain on their young minds. Talking to them through it all is extremely important. However, what we must also teach them is the virtual world is not a substitute to the real world. Accept the role of technology in our kids’ lives, but teach them the importance of face-to-face time with friends and family.

Lastly, we need to make sure we continue to talk to them and reassure them that all is OK. That Mama & Papa have things sorted. With the unlock phase in progress around the country and people returning to the workforce, the numbers have been surging. My husband has also gone back to work and thus we all would require to take extra measures but then at the end of the day we all would win this situation for sure. We want them to know we have thought things through and are taking steps so that we are taiyaar for this new phase. Have you taken the steps necessary to prepare for the future? The tayaari we do today will ensure that our family is ready for what the future throws at us. Kyuki agar Tayaari sahi hai toh Jeet Pakki Hai – in Association with ICICI Prudential Life.

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