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How to encourage your kids to be tech savvy and safe

Ania Rodriguez has advised Fortune 1000 companies on user interface design, product design, and user research for nearly two decades. Her company, Key Lime Interactive, masterminds all things usability for web, mobile, tablet, and medica...

5 Ways to encourage your kids to love technology

Are you the kind of parent who cringes every time you see your children balancing an iPad, an iPhone and a PlayStation controller on their laps, somehow playing a game and watching two shows all at once?

Learning that modern children are tech-savvy creatures can be scary. You may feel like they aren’t developing social skills, they aren’t acquiring a love for the outdoors or their privacy and well-being are at risk.

I’m not that kind of parent. I believe that promoting tech literacy in children is a beautiful thing and that doing so will open many doors for them down the road. Children who are encouraged to use technology to help them bring ideas to life gain so many competitive advantages.

Rather than limit their use of technology — or teach them to fear it.

Here’s how to properly encourage children to be tech literate, while still promoting a safe future full of opportunities:

  • Do the security work first. No parent should be a ball of anxiety every time his or her child opens up the laptop. Do your research on parental controls right now. There are so many privacy options out there you can use. With the right safeguards in place, parents can wholeheartedly devote themselves to the tech-savvy cause.
  • Explore the world of creativity. Have fun with it. One of the biggest advantages technology can offer your children is creativity. All of the tech devices in your home can be used to invent and innovate. Whether it’s words, photographs, art or websites, your computer or smartphone has a way to make it happen.
  • Encourage social branding. Be vigilant. Building a great personal brand at a young age via social media can be useful for your children’s future, but building the wrong one can haunt them for the rest of their lives. Parents need to make sure their kids are more than aware of this fact, and they need to keep close tabs on whom they’re connecting with and what they’re putting out there.
  • Branch out from academia. Explore everything tech has to offer. If you restrict its use to academic purposes, your kids will only associate it with “work” and never see its big-picture potential. Find ways to connect tech to what they’re interested in. For example, my daughter loves fashion, so she and I are creating a website and a YouTube channel where she can talk about her sewing projects. She’s becoming more tech literate as she simultaneously becomes better at sewing — and, on top of that, we get to spend quality time together.
  • Understand games can be good. Maybe we didn’t grow up with video games, but there’s no avoiding the role they play in our kids’ lives. Mine fell in love with a mobile game called Subway Surfers, and the time they spent mastering it led to a love for technology as a whole. Last June, my daughter won the computer student leader award at her kindergarten, and she’s so proud!

The important thing is to keep technology safe while making it fun. Show your kids how tech can enhance their interests and passions and how it can help them create and explore the world around them — but also show them how using it the wrong way can hurt them.

With the right guidance, your tech-savvy kids can be the next great leaders of our world.

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