- Is being a stress-free parent possible?
- Be organised for virtual learning
- How to get organised for digital learning
- Teach kids tech autonomy
- Provide motivation for digital learning
- Use parental control
- Get involved in children's digital lives
- Seek support from other parents
- Digitally disconnect
In our GoStudent expert talks, we speak to experts in the field of education! Find out more on real-life insights from leaders in the ed industry. 🚀
Being a digital parent in the time of COVID-19 has come with an ever-growing set of challenges. While school and its related activities brought some downtime for parenting, digital learning has in many ways taken that away.
From worrying about students not being engaged in virtual learning to navigating its technology, parents have their hands full! ✊
Also bound to the house in lockdown, kids are having to spend long hours looking at screens. Whether it’s Netflix, video games or just scrolling on social media, parents find themselves having to be constantly vigilant about their children's digital activities and how they affect their health.
Is being a stress-free parent in this digital age even possible?
A space where the digital world and its demands haven’t taken away the time and energy you need to form a loving relationship with your child. ❤️
If you are struggling to be a happy parent in this pandemic, you aren’t alone. But we’re here to show you ways for stress-free digital parenting.
Be organised for virtual learning
🔥 Expert Tip: “I’d say to parents struggling with online learning for their kids, that they shouldn't be intimidated by the technology,” says Paris-based Elizabeth Milovidov, a digital parenting coach and a consultant for UNICEF. “Instead ask the teachers for help or just take a quick tutorial.”
Stress is caused for parents and students when the moment they are supposed to ‘go live’ in the virtual classroom is fraught with confusion and technology failure.
If parents are organised for virtual learning well before that moment, it will be less stressful for you and more engaging for students as well.
How do you get organised for digital learning?
- Have specific devices for specific activities. So perhaps you can assign the laptop for virtual learning, the tablet for gaming and Netflix, and if students have smartphones then, that would be for staying connected with friends and family.
- This helps because then parents are less likely to hunt for the device just before a virtual classroom. In case it’s been taken by another family member or child for another purpose.
- Having designated devices for virtual classrooms helps students focus better. As they are less likely to start a video game or social media chat on a device that parents have solely reserved for online learning.
- Be clear with the privacy settings of a virtual classroom before you begin the session for students – So are cameras on or off? What about microphones?
- Before digital learning begins, have login credentials like passwords and zoom links for virtual learning platforms near students. Maybe it’s saved on the desktop of the device you use for online learning or pinned on the board where students sit every day for class.
- Check your WIFI connection at least ten minutes before students are supposed to enter the virtual classroom. Have a backup plan if possible – mobile data or the neighbour’s WIFI connection in case yours is down.
Parents are students’ tech support in the virtual classroom, so if you’re prepared and they can rely on you, there is less stress for them and for you. 🙂
Teach kids tech autonomy
Having to always be present throughout students’ virtual learning sessions can be exhausting.
You wish they could manage just a few simple tasks by themselves so you could get time off to put those clothes in the washing machine. Or just have a quick ten-minute power nap.
We spoke to Spain-based Theresa Desuyo; a mother of three and digital parenting ambassador who was the former family expert at Qustodio, a multi-platform parental control software.
Desuyo believes in making kids a certain “amount of tech-savvy” so they can become more independent in their online learning. While Desuyo agrees that this might take a considerable amount of “patience and investment of time in the beginning from parents, it’s certainly worth it” in the long run.
So while students do not need to know how to work a device like an adult, here are a few basics tasks that can make them more independent during online learning :
- Knowing how to turn on and off the device
- Being able to connect the device to WIFI
- Activating their virtual learning platform by themselves
- The working of key buttons like camera and microphone that determine their presence during online learning
- Remembering passwords and understanding their sensitivity
- How to operate basic troubleshooting for a device like reloading a page, rebooting a device or clearing the trash can.
🔥 Expert Tip: “These learning moments are all teaching moments too. They are opportunities [for parents] to transfer information and knowledge about the digital world to them [students],” says Desuyo.
Provide motivation for digital learning
🔥 Expert Tip: “It’s hard for kids to concentrate on online classes; one zoom class after another,” says Milovidov, a mother of two boys herself. “Find ways to motivate them [students] before or after class.”
If parents are stressed about students having learning gaps through virtual learning they can create small challenges with rewards: answer two questions right related to digital learning for the day and you get a film night with popcorn.
Milovidov understands that this could feel like “parent bribery” but she also feels that it’s justifiable for “exceptional times” [pandemic] parents are going through.
Use parental controls
Parental control is often in-built into your devices or can also be purchased at affordable prices. It can put a number of restrictions on student devices that can reduce the stress of students being unsafe online. Some of these include :
- Disabling in-app purchases to avoid child credit fraud
- Timers for the device or certain apps, so kids aren’t browsing long after their designated digital activity
- Block sites that are dangerous or 18+
- Put passwords on the wifi or devices themselves if you don’t want students to be browsing unattended
- Disable the entry of intimate details like name, age and address
Yet parental control is no replacement for the strong relationship of communication and trust you must have with students in their digital lives. As parental control is akin to the digital rules of only your house and is not applicable when students are with their peers using other devices.
Get involved in children’s digital lives
With kids being increasingly on screens it's natural for parents to be concerned about their digital safety. The best way to ensure that you have a happy child when he or she is in the online world is to take an active interest in their digital activities yourself!
How do you get involved in students’ online lives?
- Ask them about the social media apps they use or the video games they play
- What do you share on Facebook?
- Who do you talk to on the video game chat?
- What do you watch on TikTok?
If you don’t know that your child’s video games also have the feature of chatting with strangers playing the same game, how will you advise them not to accept such chat requests?
So such questions automatically lead to addressing e-safety concerns for parents or at least gives them more information as to where there could be possible dangers to students’ cybersecurity.
🔥 Expert Tip: “Have devices in common spaces of the home like the living room,” says Spain-based Theresa Desuyo; the digital family expert and marketing manager for Qustodio, a multi-platform parental control software. “So you or another adult is always around when kids are on their devices.”
The deeper parents are interested in students’ digital lives, the more they are likely to trust them and approach them if they experience anything online that upsets them.
Through communication about their digital lives, parents reassure students that they are there for them if anything goes wrong online.
An apt example of having healthy digital communication with her kids is Milovidov herself.
A gaming geek, Milovidov often plays video games with her middle school-going boys. Once when she was playing a game with her younger one a Tinder advertisement popped up on their screen. When it kept displaying on the screen she was able to guide her son away from it while addressing his natural curiosity.
🔥 Expert Tip: “I try to be with them [her boys] on this digital highway as much as I can,” says Milovidov. “And that’s where many teaching moments come through.”
Seek support from other parents
🔥 Expert Tip: “Keep talking to other parents and find out how they are coping and what is working with their kids and what is not because as the African proverb goes – ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ ” says Milovidov. “With this pandemic, we're feeling more and more alone. We don't realize that almost every other parent is dealing with the same thing.”
Parents need to come together and find solutions to their digital stresses together. A combined sense of knowledge is bound to spark creative 🎨 solutions for the challenges of digital parenting.
If you don’t already have a community of parents to seek support from in times of distress, there are many digital communities, that have some free resources you can access:
While parents might be practising the right to digitally disconnect and rest at work are they also doing it as digital parents? 🤔
Being on students’ school WhatsApp groups, along with Instagram pages and then also receiving newsletters from them can be an information overload. These multiple social media platforms that provide constant updates about your child’s activities can be overwhelming even if as a parent you deeply love your child.
So be mindful about the number of platforms you engage with as a digital parent. Perhaps even take the conscious decision to leave one or two virtual platforms if the information provided there is repetitive and irrelevant.
This way you can save this time and energy that you would have given to student-parent platforms and use it instead for building a happy relationship with your child. 😃
Our Advice? Stress-free parenting and stress-free digital parenting have the same ingredients:
- Take interest in students’ digital lives for trust and communication which will ensure that they are safe online
- Become your child’s tech support by learning about technology and also teaching them some basic tech autonomy
- Reach out to parent communities when you find yourself struggling through digital parenting
- Remember to digitally disconnect from time to time for the rest you need to form a happy parent-child relationship.
At GoStudent, our tutors strive hard to support students in their learning which enables you to be a stress-free parent! You can book a trial lesson with one of our tutors!