Experts said fathers and mothers should become “digital parents” because of the time their children spend on online platforms, which increased significantly during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a US technology company, OpenVault, time spent on the internet rose nearly 50% during the pandemic, on a yearly basis.

Experts say families should limit and plan children’s time online.

Dr. Hatice Yalcin, manager of the Center for Child Education, Research and Application of Turkey’s Konya Chamber of Commerce Karatay University, said parents should focus on educating their children when using the internet and digital technologies at an early age.

For distance education after the pandemic, parents are confused about the time their children are on digital platforms.

“If parents pay attention to some basic principles during the distance education process, serious harm may not occur as much as feared,” she told Anadolu Agency.

She noted that instead of imposing strict restrictions, the process should be managed with stretched rules, and children should gain digital habits and awareness at an early age.

“It is very important to manage time with children. No matter how old the child is, they should plan the frequency of using social media and playing online games by themselves,” she said.

Control applications

Providing children with the ability to think critically will minimize the possibility of harm, said Yalcin.

“Children should be suspicious that some content on the online platforms may be incorrect. They must learn to question the content and must have a habit of suspecting inappropriate information.”

She also said that families should be careful with the digital privacy of their children, and stressed that parents must avoid actions that limit freedom, while also protecting children.

Yalcin added that parents should use control applications for internet usage.

“With the right guidance, digital technologies allow children to develop their digital communication skills and increase their creativity,” she said. “Families should spend quality time with their children even on the internet to protect them.”

Digital literacy skills

Dr. Nabat Garakhanova, a digital communication expert, said families should learn how they spend quality time with their children to raise awareness.

Young children can be protected via the child-modes of web-sites, such as Google Family and YouTube Kids, she said.

“Mothers and fathers should become digital parents to protecting them on online platforms,” she underlined.

She said one to two hours of internet usage is enough for children aged two to 10 years, and three hours for those 10-13 years old, under parents’ control.

Parents should warn children about online crimes just like in the real world and families should learn digital literacy to use internet platforms properly, she noted.

“Children consult their friends instead of their families about the problems they face in the digital world, digital parenting has become very important,” she added.

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