The Art of Parenting Kids in the Digital Space
When I started working for Metaverse Mod Squad, my kids were 1 and 3 years old. They are now 7 and 9, and it’s really no surprise that after seeing me work from my computer every day, sometimes all day, that they would also have a love for computers and video games. Over the years, I have let my kids log into the different virtual worlds clients of ours so they could play around in social arenas that I was familiar with. It wasn’t a far leap when they started picking out their own games to play.
From an early age we started having conversations about the rules when they are online.
- No giving out their name, age or location, even (especially) if someone asks.
- No being rude to other players or saying inappropriate things.
I even have my children convinced that I will find out every time they inappropriately engage with other players (I wonder how much longer that will last? Probably not as long as I’d like…).
Just as I have tried to instill these rules in them, I have also repeatedly explained the importance of flushing the toilet and turning off the light when they leave a room, and yet time and time again these very simple instructions have escaped them, so I know that I need to be extra vigilant when it comes to their online activities.
The newest craze in my house is YouTube. Can’t beat a “boss” in a video game? Time to find a YouTube walk-through. Need instructions on how to put a Lego set together? YouTube it is! Just plain bored and want something to do? There’s nothing that sucks them in faster than the latest episode from their favorite video game blogger. My oldest son has even started making his own Minecraft “episodes.” He has big dreams that one day he will be a famous vlogger, with a fandom of his very own (that’s a fan kingdom for those of you not in the know). For now, though, his fan base consists of me, grandma, and the occasional friend I send his links. The other day he was creating a video and I overheard him going on and on about killing one of the villains in his game. He paused and said, “Oh, I should stop that, my grandma is watching this.” I definitely had a chuckle, and was relieved to know that he knows that he is being watched, and is accountable for his actions.
There are other times when they are searching YouTube and they come across something they shouldn’t, but it’s not necessarily their fault. Let’s face it, anyone who has searched YouTube for a specific subject knows just how easy it is to end up with something completely unrelated to what you were searching (and in some cases, things you never want to see again), so I definitely monitor what they are looking up. There have been a few times when I’ve overheard language not suitable for their ages, so I had to make them turn it off. Naturally, in these moments I instantly became the “meanest mom ever” [Insert dramatic sighs and eye rolling]. Although my kids are great about not repeating bad words or acting out inappropriately, I have no problem playing the mean mom role from time to time, because I want them to know that I AM listening and watching what they do. That is the best action I can take to ensure they will continue to be great kids, and continue to be careful about what they say and do online.
It’s only a matter of time before they are to the social media age, and I want to have a jump on the craziness that will be their life in a time of growing up with social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, where the slightest comment can quickly spiral out of control and take on a life of its own.
My advice to parents out there with young kids that are starting to learn their way around the World Wide Web is to make sure you are monitoring what they are doing. Set clear rules and restrictions for them when they are online, but also remember there are a lot of great things that can come from the internet. It is a useful tool where they can learn new things and express their creative side; just don’t let them forget that you are watching and listening to everything they do.
The photos for this blog are courtesy of other Metaverse parents. They were just too cute not to share, and made me realize I am not alone in this boat.