Growing Up in a Digital World: Are You & Your Child Ready?
Growing Up in a Digital World.
With the new generation, growing up in a digital world cannot be easy. They are literally growing up with technology and have never known a world without it. While the digital age can offer benefits that we didn’t have, it can also bring about various dangers too.
Back to school is here and it’s a time where we buy new wardrobes, new kicks, backpacks, school supplies and maybe even a new smartphone. But, the big question is your child is ready for a phone?.
It makes me think back on my own school days. I remember the pure and utter delight that my sibligns and I felt when our school principal allowed us to use a Commodore computer over the summer. It was our first year in Canada and we were all still learning to speak English and adjusting. It’s an act of kindness I will never forget. Having that computer over the summer of 1988 not only helped us to learn more, we were bitten by the technology bug.
Ever since then, I’ve owned a computer and then came pagers and soon after, cell phones. While I didn’t have the ‘Zack Morris’ phone, I wasn’t too far off. I had my first cell phone (with the company that eventually became TELUS) when I was in Grade 9 and even though I was young, we didn’t have the unlimited texting and the various social media networks to document the good, bad and the ugly of growing up.
In a sense, we were lucky.
I was an early adopter of technology, I’ve always loved it. As a relatively young mother, that means I am pretty familiar with social media, crazy challenges and what younger kids are up to these days. But, according to Gabs, I’m not hip enough for today’s slang. So, you won’t catch me saying “lit” or “fam” in public anytime soon. I guess you win some and you lose some, right? But, the fact that I’ve always loved technology has allowed me to adapt to it and along with it, the emergence of social media.
While I don’t call myself an expert at anything, I think I can say I have a pretty good knowledge about social media. Maybe a bit more than other parents who aren’t familiar with our new digital world. But, it is something that is continuously changing and something you need to actively keep up with. Not to mention, something that is a HUGE part of our younger generation’s lives.
Growing up, I didn’t have it rough at school. If you know me, you know that I’m really short. I think ever since I can remember, the fact that I was small influenced the way on how I handled situations. Right down to how I handled myself. I became a protector rather than a victim and would always speak up for those who couldn’t.
Having two daughters, thinking about what they can potentially go through scares me. I grew up with parents who were incredibly loving but, very protective. We didn’t have open conversations about social and interpersonal topics. That’s why Darasak and I choose to have an open relationship with our girls. Even though it makes us uncomfortable sometimes, we talk about things openly. We hope that it gives them reassurance that they can count on us for everything.
Thankfully, there are resources out there that have helped us through these tough situations. Gabby is 13 now and while she’s had a phone for a little while, she is finally ready for the next step. That step includes unlimited texting, phone calls, and online access. TELUS has created TELUS WISE, a free platform that can help kids and parents learn how to be safe online and how to manage their online usage.
Plus, they have a wide array of resources for seniors and virtually anyone who is looking for information about navigating the digital world.
How do you know when your child is ready for a phone though? It’s one of the most popular questions that parents have. You worry about finding a balance between the many benefits of tech and the darker side that it can potentially have. Especially what effect it can have on our children’s overall health.
What Does Your Digital Footprint Look Like
One of the most significant issues that we discussed with Gabby is her online foot print. Did you know that 99% of Canadians have access to the internet and 82% of them are using social media?
That is a lot of people online and why we talked about how to manage her online life and how much it can have an impact on her not only now but, in the future. Since so many people have access to the net, that means that colleges and universities, potential employers and even volunteer programmers can look you up online.
We’ve also spoken about in length the hard to discuss topics like sexting, cyber bullying, harassment, discrimination, identity theft and more. In fact, we watched videos that the kids from Degrassi: Next Class and Backstage star in. They really helped me to spark up a conversation with her on topics that would otherwise be difficult to bring up. The best part was that she actually did have questions and I was so happy to answer and to let her know to reach out if anything happens.
If something like that does happen, we’ve talked about the steps to take. Most important thing to do is to STOP the engagement, RECORD and take screenshots of the questionable messages or pictures, BLOCK the user or person if you need to, and TALK to somebody.
Take the Quiz
My youngest daughter has been using tech since she was a baby. Literally. She is asking for a phone already and she’s 7 but, she mostly uses an iPod or borrows my tablet. She loves YouTube and is on it whenever she has screen time.
If you have a child who is asking for a phone, TELUS has created a readiness quiz that can help you determine if they are ready. They even created a contract that you both can sign together when you make the leap. That way, it keeps you both accountable. It’s quite useful!
As I mentioned, after a lot of deliberation but, with just as much preparation, Gabby is ready for a phone. There have been times where she couldn’t get a hold of us because she didn’t have a WiFi connection and not being able to call someone is definitely worrisome. She’s gotten to an age where she needs it for safety and communication. Not only between her and her friends but, between us too.
Find What Works for You
Among the many things that make me happy, tools that make life easier are right at the top of that list. TELUS has a digital rate plan builder that makes finding the right plan simple. I’ve used the builder a few times to decide what is better for our family. Using the tool, you can decide what your voice and data needs will be and how it can suit your budget.
Darasak and I are waiting for the new iPhone to be released. Our hopes are to get our hands on an iPhone X! Once it is, we’ll use the digital rate plan builder again. We want to find the perfect plan for us both and Gabby. I can’t even tell you how much time it has saved us already. Especially since I don’t have to call or wait online to get a hold of someone.
For more information and amazing resources, head over to TELUS WISE. If you have kids in Grade 2 to Grade 6, make sure they check out this awesome TELUS WISE footprint contest to get your child’s school up to $3000. Plus, your child has the chance to win $500 for a winning submission.
Get social with TELUS on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for the latest updates!
The decision to give your child a smartphone is a big one. It requires a lot of responsibility and accountability from both parent and child. Hopefully, the quiz is a great place to start or a way to really decide if they are ready.
Do your kids have a phone?
Let me know, til then–cheers m’deres!
Note: This post is sponsored by TELUS. All my thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.
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Nancy Polanco is a freelance journalist, lifestyle content creator, and editor of Whispered Inspirations. She is a proud Mom to Gabby and Michaela. Having worked as part of a health care team for almost a decade, Nancy is happy to be back to her passion. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TODAY’s Parents, and an Oprah Magazine Brand Ambassador.
Thanks for the heads up on the Telus Wise footprint contest!
My pleasure, it is such a great contest. WIN-WIN!
I’m so glad my kids are adults i have a hard time trying to keep up myself!
Hehe, it is ever-changing.
All three of my kids have phones. They’re all old enough that they’re routinely out and about, and my husband and I love being able to get in touch with them at any time.
It is so convenient and gives you peace of mind.
I’m going to be honest with my opinion….I hate that the children today are growing up in this world of technology. It has great perks for education, but it has a huge decline in children using their imagination. Kids today don’t play outside or with others like they did when I was growing up. Childhood memories of my own include riding bikes with friends, sleepovers where we sat around talking about our latest crush, and playing board games with friends. Today they are making memories of snap chat filters and the latest youtube video.
My kids play outside every day and get screen time. It is possible to find a balance between using technology to help them learn and be creative. My childhood memories are like yours but, you can bet that I played video games and went on the computer. You cannot stop the progression of technology, better yet, it should be embraced but, used responsibly. Thanks for your comment.
I hear you and sometimes i complain to the grandkids about to much screen time,we have to help them find a balance where it doesn’t take over all their time.I think parents need to limit how much time their kids spend online so they can experience all the other fun stuff available!
I can’t imagine how hard it is now for a child growing up in the digital age, myspace and bebo and of course MSN messenger were around in my teens and THAT could be bad enough.
Definitely, a lot to grow up with but, so many benefits of tech too.
It is true, we are growing up in a world full of ever changing technology. I can’t agree more that it is very important that we be open to it. When we were growing up there were many things we had that our parents didn’t! One way or another it is a great way to research and learn and as long as it is monitored correctly it is a positive thing. This post helps to educate us on what we should be focusing on in this ever changing world and gives us the tools to succeed. Thanks for writing it!
You said this perfectly. It is exactly what I wanted to get across. 🙂 My pleasure, hope it helps at least one person.
My daughter has been begging for a phone nonstop. And the kids are always wanting some kind of screen time. It is so tough to find balance. We are ready to start leaving my daughter home alone, but I want her to have access to a phone in case of emergency.
That is our main focus. Safety. Finding balance is definitely key.
Its amazing how much technology influences a child’s life in today’s society. My kids at age 2, siting on my lap, could navigate a cellphone like no one i know! Now that they want to play devices like that without Mom being around could cause issues. Learning how to use them right and the importance of safety in a digital age is very important.
Yes! It is very important!
I think the readiness quiz is a genius idea! Good for TELUS for creating that! We do need to be sure our kids are ready! I also confess I use some of today’s slag but only around the house lol.
Hehe, guilty as charged here too. In the house! But, yes, the quiz is great after you’ve been weighing the decision.
I do love taking quizzes! I am going to do it now, I did not get time when I commented before but everyone is asleep and I have some ME time now lol
You’ll find the quiz very helpful!
My son turns 13 really soon and we’ve still not gotten him a cell phone. We drop him off at private school and pick him up. Next year he starts High School and things are different. That means he will need a cell phone.
We will have extensive conversations about cell phone use. I don’t want him getting in trouble for a picture a girl sent or one his friends sent. I talk to him about those type of things now. I have iPhone so he will be on a child’s profile.
Hopefully, these resources can help! Good luck.
It is a completely different world then the one we grew up in. The digital world can be a scary place. It is so important to talk to our kids about it.
You said it perfectly!
No, I am not ready for my 14 month old to grow up and use a digital device. I am so not ready, ugh..
LOL! It is coming!
To be honest, technology is essential in this day and age because of its invaluable benefits. However, I worry more about the drawbacks of our over-reliance on it. It is ideal to limit ourselves as well as the children from using technologies too much.
Yes, there are many benefits but, one of the main things is communication. It is invaluable to be able to get a hold of our kids when we need to and for them to be able to call for help when they are on their own.
My kids were pretty much pre-digital. I don’t think my boys had a cell into their senior year. My daughter got her phone when she was sixteen.
Times change so quickly.
It’s so hard to find that fine line for technology. It’s easy taken out of hand but as you said, it’s extremely useful and necessary in our day and age.
Yes, finding a balance is difficult but, hopefully, we can find it.
My son has been using an iPhone since he was one lol Heck, he knew more about it than I do. Still, we limit his usage to the digital world because he is still too young (9). Talking to our kids is important especially when it comes to the online world.
Yes, always great to set boundaries!
I remember our first computer at home. My uncle gave it to me to use for writing college papers. That was about all it Did. Then the internet was born shortly after and I was hooked. I kinda wish my kids weren’t tied to the screen but at the same time it has made school easier due to electronic books. No more lugging a backpack full of heavy books home.
We had little games on it. If you can consider them games but, man, we loved it.
I know that technology is used too frequently as a babysitter although my son is good about time limits of 30 minutes on school days (she’s almost 6). I can’t imagine having to decide when my granddaughter will be ready to have her own phone … tough decision!
This is all great information to know! My 7-year-old asked for a cell phone the other day, and I am not at all prepared to handle the implications of my children with technology. Thanks for sharing this info!
Hehe, so far for our little, it is tablets only.
We can’t deny the usage of new digital technoloy these days for adults and children. The only way is to strike a balance. We allow our kid with ipad or tablet but not cellphone. We just want to wait until he’s much older.
We do with our youngest but, there came a point where she needed it. 🙂
I am also included in that generation where we witnessed the evolution of technology from celphone, internet and computers. I also believe that our kids should be discipline when using these gadgets. Teach them how to use it properly and give them a heads up about the advantage and disadvantages of using it.
Angela, you hit the nail on the head. I completely agree. 🙂
We got our son his smartphone last year (he was in 8th grade), but we set the rules before we got it for him. It is important to set rules.
Yes, so important. Same age as my eldest.
Digital parenting can be scary, but we just have to be involved!
We definitely have to be involved!
we live in a world all about technology. sometimes its bad sometimes it isn’t. I love how things were when I was a child. Got to leave the house and play with friends, climb trees, go to McDonalds .. all without my parents or having to check in. but times have changed. my girls are only 5 and 3 but yes there will come a time sooner then later (i was 16 when i got my first cell phone) that my daughters will have their own phone. It will be comforting to know I can get a hold of them whenever I want when they are out or they can get a hold of me. Definitely will have a talk with them and check in with their phone to make sure they are being responsible with it
So much has changed since we’ve grown up. We have to watch out for our kids.
I miss the days of no cell phones and playing outside for hours on end making up fantasy worlds.
The good ole days!
My oldest is only 4 but already loves technology. I’m scared to think what it will be like once she starts asking for a phone.
That day will definitely come! My youngest is 7 and she’s already asking for a phone!
Yes, they have a phone and sometimes it is a worry, but i know they are careful.
My girls are the same.
My two oldest have phones because they are involved in a lot of activities like music and dance and I need to be able to get a hold of them. My other kids love screen time as well, but we are careful to limit it.
My oldest daughter has a phone also cause she’s involved in so many sports after school. Great way to keep in contact with her. My youngest also has screen time and we monitor it all the time.
This is such important information for any parent with kids who have or will have phones. I set limits on my daughter’s phone use, including duration and time of day.
We do the exact same thing with our kids too!
My 12 year old niece got an iPhone 7 this last Christmas. And all of my nieces have iPads. I am totally sending this quiz to my sister, so she can have her kids take it!
Yes pass it on to your sister! This would be great for her to know if they’re ready.
Technology truly is amazing but I am glad I was not too immersed in it as a teenager. I got my first cell phone when I was able to pay for it, at around age 15!
My kiddo does not have a phone yet. I think it is different for each family when is the right time to get a phone for the kiddo. For us we only have one car and so we are together more often then we are not. As they get older they will definitely get a phone.
You’re so right. Each family is different but you’ll know when it’s time to get your kiddo a phone.
You’ll know when it’s time to get them phones.
I am so glad that my kids grew up before all of this technology. I see my grandkids on it all the time. You definitely need to set boundaries.
Boundaries have to be set for sure!
My oldest daughter has a laptop she got for Christmas and it already drives me crazy. I only let her have a set amount of time on it, but she already gets aggravated when I make her get off. I am going to check these out a bit more.
I really hope my post can help you.
Technology today, can be a blessing and a curse. I love how it can help them educationally. But I hate how it can be dangerous and unsafe, as it needs to be monitored. I am glad that there exist things that help us as parents to stay on top of things!
I feel the same way!
I’m not looking forward to my daughters having a phone. Right now they’re both to young for them anyways. I know my husband and I would like them to have jobs and afford to pay for their own phones.
You’ll know exactly when its time just remember to take the quiz!
My kids have tablets but I am not allowing cell phones until they have jobs. That is where I draw the line.
Just remember to make them take the quiz!
This is certainly a much different age from when I grew up without technology. It is so tough finding balance with electronics. I want my kids to have technology available to them – for example, a phone to communicate with when they are home alone – but not always be staring at a screen.
We have to set boundaries and monitor every time they use it.
I love this post so much because my children are definitely growing up in a way different world that me. My kids are not ready to have phones yet, but they do have iPads and I need to limit their usage and make sure they use them wisely!
Any device should be monitored. A lot has changed.
Technology is so hard to keep up with but so essential to every day life. We are always careful to monitor what is going on with our son’s phone to make sure he is safe.
We are too! Gotta keep our kids safe.
Thanks for the info. My son is not old enough ( in my opinion) to need a phone yet, but I always am so interested in posts like this to try to prepare me.
I’m so glad I can help you prepare for that day to come!
Today’s world is definitely very technology driven. It is not a bad thing as long as your kids know how to handle it.
I totally agree!
I remember not being ready for when my kids started asking about having tech of their own. We definitely discussed the dos and donts when the time came.
We were on the same boat as you.
It is so important for kids to be ready before they get a phone. It’s good that TELUS offers resources for parents navigating a digital world.
It’s so hard to to balance limited tech time but also keeping up in the tech world we are living in. My main goal is to ensure they are safe when using technology.
Safety is the most important thing when it comes to technology.
Thanks so much for sharing these useful tips! Growing up in this digital age can be a challenge both for child and parents. Glad there are ways we can monitor and guide our children to use technology the right way.
It is a huge challenge these days for both. I’m glad there’s a quiz you can take to see if your kids are ready.
I am so glad I grew up in the time that I did. I don’t think I could face all the challenges kids these days have, growing up with social media everywhere!!
So much has changed but we gotta protect our kids.
Nowadays the children are way more prepared than we ever were or will be
They sure are!
I hate to admit this but my son does have access to a smartphone but only at home when it is connected to wifi. He can text with an app but only to grandparents and his parents.
My oldest daughter does too!
I can’t imagine growing up in today’s world! Technology is everywhere! I remember my first cell phone…the STARTAC 😉
I still remember mine too!
Although my kids have tablets and my older two have Gizmo Gadget phone watches, they rarely use them. I am very strict with their usage and what they access.
I was also an early adapter of technology, and still love it to this day! My kids love their computers but only my 15 year old has a cell phone. Before high school, I say “NO” to phones. I know they’re ready, but I’m not! lol
Hehe, I do not think I am ever ready but, it is great to stay in contact. Definitely a personal decision. 🙂
I definitely think it’s a personal decision as to whether your child is ready for a phone. We originally were going to wait to give our kids a phone with phone service when they were 13. However, we have 6 kids, from ages 9 to 16, and they each have a phone.
Yes, for sure, it is definitely a personal decision.
My son is still too young for a phone (he’s only 6) but I know it’ll come – probably sooner rather than later because we don’t have a landline!
Yes, eventually. 🙂
No, but my 11 year old son has been asking for one since many of his peers have one. I’m just afraid he’s not mature enough for one yet, but on the other hand, it would come in handy just in case there’s an emergency.
Yes, that is what I thought.
I’ve had a cell phone for as long as I can remember. I was definitely born in the digital world, and have watched it change dramatically in the last 10 years. Now my 4 year old cousin knows how to talk to Siri, navigate you tube, and Instagram stories. He’s my little social media manager. It’s actually trippy how comfortable he is with technology.
My kids are the exact same!
My oldest is 13 and he has a phone. He can call/text me through an app, but otherwise doesn’t have texting.
That is good!
It’s nice to see Telus helping parnets navigate this new world we live in. I really think that balance and transparency is the key to kids having phones. My oldest got his first phone a month before he turned 15 and my next oldest got one earlier this year at 12. They have lots of rules and limited plans with no data and I have all social media passwords. I love being able to communicate with them throughout the day and I think phone access can help them become more aware of the impact social media can have, both good and bad.
Yes, TELUS is great for having resources.