Technology can influence your child in both harmful and positive ways. For the sake of being realistic, technology isn’t going anywhere and avoidance doesn’t seem like the answer. One of the big negative issues our societies children are facing has to do with our children’s ability to develop empathy. Use of technology seems to have a direct influence on their empathetic awareness later in life.
Since advances in technology are only developing at fleeting speeds, why not try to find some positive ways to use it? Here are 7 top notch ideas on positive ways to use technology for children.
Table of Contents
Discuss the importance of “Digital Citizenship”
Online bullying has been a huge issue in our current society. It’s often brought to light as more and more children are unable to cope with the bullying and end up on the news as another victim of self-harm.
It’s not that bullying didn’t exist before the internet, but it was limited. Often bullying presented itself in the form of notes passed or a comment here and there.
Now, it has crossed that thresh hold and ended up in our homes. Children get bullied online, often publically in social media accounts. What’s worse, it’s often crueler than ever due to the ability for many children to post nasty comments anonymously.
As parents, you can be part of the solution not by keeping your kids offline but by teaching them good digital citizenship. You can read a great article here at Teach Thoughtful.
Have a Birthday Fundraiser
Have you heard of no gift birthdays? Many parents are opting for this route, trying to minimize the importance of material possessions to children. It also helps to reduce the (although very thoughtful, often unnecessary) amount of toys in the house.
Instead of a total no gift party, you could discuss the option of hosting a birthday fundraiser on facebook with your child. They have a large list of participating charities you child can choose from. All you have to do is share the fundraiser with your friends and family, and ask for donations, instead of gifts.
This will help show your child the joys that come by doing something good for others.
Teach that what they say, matters
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I’m sure this rhyme started with the best intentions, to teach children that what others say shouldn’t affect their emotional state.
But truth is, that words hurt. People will say things online that they would never dare say in person. They do not have to witness the person’s face and see the pain they’ve caused.
Instead, teach your children that words can hurt too and to pick their words with thought and care. Start by teaching your child the words that describe feelings and emotions. Encourage them to use these words and even emojis online during all discussions to better clarify messages.
Learn about others together
The digital world offers the amazing ability to travel, without leaving home. You can hear people tell their stories through online videos and podcasts.
You can find out how others live and what’s important to them. You and your child can watch and listen to their thoughts, dreams and struggles. One of my favorite documentaries on Netflix is On the Way to School.
It tells the stories of children and the struggles they face in getting to school in other countries. For them, learning is such a privilege, and they overcome many obstacles to get there.
Another example, today in the USA there is an immigration crisis due to the illegal immigrants who were brought over from their home countries as children who could not say no to their parents, and who now, as adults do not consider any other place home but the USA.
Due to a lack of empathy, many people are wanting these people deported. But, what if their family’s stories were made public online? What if you learned that their family was fleeing from wars, starvation, or persecution. What if you learned that there was no way these people could become legal citizens after being brought over illegally? Would you feel differently?
Of course, these are just examples of how you could teach your children empathy through technology. Find issues that are bigger than your child and your family, and find ways they can discover how others must feel in their perspective. These exercises will teach them to “walk in other’s shoes.” Which is an invaluable tool for life and becoming an empathetic adult.