When your children have questions about life, where do they turn for answers?
Google? Alexa? Friends? Or you?
Our kids have more access to information than ever before. They’ve grown up with the Internet, social media, and now Alexa and they have access all day. And they may be more comfortable or trust online advice more than they do talking to you!
This realization became a reality for me when an 11-year-old girl emailed us here at iMOM. She was concerned about her parent’s marriage. She searched online and found an iMOM article, “Is This the Root Cause of Your Marriage Problems?” She thought it would help her mother and emailed us about it. She apologized that she was only 11 (but almost 12) and asked us if we would send the information to her mother.
What fascinated me was that she took the initiative to research on her mother’s behalf but didn’t go to her mother directly. Are we losing our connection with our kids? Do they feel more comfortable reaching out to strangers in the “box” than their own family?
Technology can be so amazingly helpful; however, it is not relational. Your child is growing up surrounded by technology. If you want to stay more connected to your child than their devices you are going to have to work at it. Here’s how to get your kids to turn to you instead:
1. Stay connected.
It all starts here. If we have a strong relationship with our children, they’ll feel more comfortable coming to us and want to come to us. So be available. When your kids are around, try to put your screen away because it’s just one more barrier they have to get through to reach you. They might think to themselves, “Oh, mom’s on her phone, she’ll ask me to wait if I go up to her.”
If we have a strong relationship with our children, they’ll feel more comfortable coming to us and want to come to us. So be available.
2. You bring up the topic.
Your kids might want to ask you how to make friends, what to do if you’re shy, or when should a teenager have sex. But if they feel awkward asking, they will ask Google instead.
Start conversations about touchy topics casually and regularly. When your kids do ask you questions, avoid saying things like, “Why do you want to know that? You should know that! You’re too young to know.” Use our conversation printables or our Q & U app to make questions fun.
3. Give them alternatives.
Give your kids options for where to turn—you, a grandparent, a teacher, books. Or, the next time they zoom to their computer or Alexa to get an answer, playfully say, “Freeze!” Then, ask them how you two can find the answer without going to the Internet.
4. Show them how to question.
Tell your kids that everything they find online isn’t necessarily true. Explain to them that most of what’s written online is someone’s opinion, or an attempt to prompt them to take action like buying something or clicking on a link. Show them how to find legitimate sites.
This is especially important when it comes to sex. Pornography and even non-porn articles about sex and social media posts make certain things seem normal, so kids think that that’s what’s expected. Keep talking about your views and the morals on which you base them.
iGen kids often feel like they’re on their own. So hug your iGen children today and tell them they can come to you at any time and with any question they have. Tell them they don’t need the Internet when they have you—the original iMOM!!