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7 Ways to Become a More Responsible Millennial Parent

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Some solutions for youth tech addiction.
Some solutions for youth tech addiction.
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It's a truism. Every millennial parent is uneasy about the amount of time their children are spending connected to the internet. Collectively we all feel our internet-age children are spending too much time online, but most of us -- for a variety of reasons -- aren't doing much about it.

Today the average seven year-old child has already spent one full year worth of hours in front of a screen [1] . That's one full year they weren't playing with tactile toys like Lego and Play Doh, or drawing and coloring, or playing hide and seek, or riding their bikes outside.

There are no long-term generational studies to prove that spending many hours online every day is detrimental to a child's future growth and development. But there are no long-term generational studies to disprove it either. That's because this entire tech phenomenon isn't even a generation old yet! Facebook, seemingly here for ages, just turned 11 this past February and Google is an ancient 17 years old.

The entire worry over tech addiction is unique to this generation of parents and has snuck up on us like a high speed train -- leaving us dazed and confused. However, our collective spider sense is tingling and we need to start listening to our gut. If it feels like your kids are spending too much time online," then they probably are.

So what can you do about it, especially if you are not tech-savvy? Here are seven ways to start playing a more active role in raising your children online.

1. Be Honest About What Kind of Digital Parent You Really Are
When it comes to thinking about tech-addiction as it pertains to your children, which of the following best describes you:

Ignorant of the problem -- "What problem?"

In denial of the problem -- "My beautiful, popular, 16-year old straight "A" daughter is doing great. She studies hard in her bedroom all the time."

Apathetic to the problem -- "I don't understand this generation. It is what it is. They will land on their feet."

Concerned about the problem -- "I don't think all this 'screen' time is healthy but I don't know what I can do about it."

Life is crazy busy for most of us, but as parents we need to find the time to be mindful about our kids' tech media consumption. Learn more about this phenomenon and why a growing number of people -- from doctors, psychologies, sociologists, and educators, to journalists, computer scientists, philosophers, and (most importantly) parents -- are becoming deeply concerned over the potential for significant long-term negative side effects for the iGeneration.

2) Assess Your Home Internet Domain
If you are going to wrap your arms around this issue you first need to understand that there are 2 different Internet domains in your home to manage:

-the home broadband network -- provided by your Internet service provider (ISP) through the router in your house, and where you get your WiFi connection from, when you are at home

-the mobile network -- provided by your cellular provider through the cell towers in your neighborhood, and where your mobile phone gets its data plan connectivity from

Managing your child's online activities effectively -- especially for tweens and teens that have their own mobile phones -- requires a plan for dealing with both of these Internet domains. If you only manage one, the child can easily switch to the other since today's smart phones support connections on both kinds of network.

3) Take Back Control Over Your Home Networks
Once you have identified the scope of your home Internet domain, the next step is to take back control over how it is used. Therefore, you want to find an Internet Parental Controls solution that works for both of these networks. And what works best is different depending on the network you are talking about.

For your home broadband network you want to stay away from a parental control solution that is device-centric. Gone are the days from 5-7 years ago when everyone shared the "family PC" in the den. Kids today have too many personal WiFi-enabled devices to go online with from any room in the house, including laptops, game consoles, iPods, iPads and tablets, eBook readers, TVs, and mobile phones.

You could go crazy downloading, installing, configuring and administering parental control software on each of those devices. Device-centric parent controls for the home broadband network is a broken and antiquated model. If the parental control solution you are looking at requires you to "download software" then stay clear as it won't scale with the number of devices in the house.

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Rod da Silva is a tech entrepreneur father of three that is concerned over the amount of time this generation of kids is spending online. He is the founder and CEO of WebCurfew.com a website that provides a free, easy to use (i.e.; no software to (more...)
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7 Ways to Become a More Responsible Millennial Parent

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