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.
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, and wife to Darasak. 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.