Be a smart digital parent

Reading the views expressed by Mr Francis Cheng ("Monitoring kids' online activity a matter of trust"; Tuesday) and Focus on the Family Singapore's Ms Vicky Ho ("Parental involvement key to raising media-savvy kids"; March 9), we can all agree that the online space has added another challenging dimension to being a parent.

Today's digital world is our children's playground. They hang out there to play games, make and stay connected with friends, and search for news and information.

Just like when we helped our children learn to walk in the playground, we, as parents, should also help them learn to navigate cyberspace and social media.

I agree with Mr Cheng on the importance of parents forging strong bonds with their children and guiding them to make the right decisions.

This is especially important for young children who are still developing their thought processes and decision-making skills and may not know how to manage online risks, such as inappropriate content, rumours and misinformation, and online predators.

It is important that we, as parents, put in place appropriate safeguards to keep our children safe online. These include using tools such as parental controls, Internet filters and safe settings, particularly for young children.

Digital parenting is not about outsmarting your children or banning them from social media or from going online, but about educating them to be media wise in their early years, so that they will make good choices when faced with questionable situations online when they grow into tweens, teens and eventually adults.

Schools and other government agencies are already active partners in promoting cyber wellness and ensuring that safeguards are in place for the young, such as the Ministry of Education's cyber wellness curriculum in schools and the National Library Board's Source, Understand, Research, Evaluate (Sure) Campaign.

But parents can also do their part to complement these efforts. Parents who are interested in picking up useful digital tips can download the parenting handbook, Clique Click: Parenting In A Digital Age, at the Media Literacy Council's website.

By being smart digital parents ourselves, we can better equip ourselves to guide our children to navigate the digital world safely and responsibly.

Tan Cheng Han

Chairman

Media Literacy Council

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2016, with the headline 'Be a smart digital parent'. Print Edition | Subscribe