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Between protection and open space

2 minutes reading time
3-17 years
Social Media

As a parent, you always feel the need to protect your child from danger – whether in traffic, when romping with friends, or even when using media, and no matter how old he or she is. After all, potential dangers lurk everywhere. But if children are always protected from this, they cannot learn to deal with it. Therefore, it is important to find a balance between protection and free space. Then your child can develop and become independent without being permanently exposed to risks.

Free spaces are important

Children and adolescents are constantly looking for new spaces of experience, even those that are far from your control as parents. You must allow your child this freedom, because it is meaningful and necessary for him to develop independence.

Children and young people need and use this freedom differently depending on their age. Younger children retreat to their room or secretly watch TV longer when mom or dad are not paying attention. Once children learn to read, they can also use online media more and differently. Then, out of curiosity, they sometimes end up on websites that are not really for them. The older your child gets, the more important it is that they also make their own decisions.

At the latest at the teen age, social networks like TikTok , Instagram , YouTube and computer games to it. Prohibiting access to these platforms in general is impossible and does not make sense from a pedagogical point of view. However, boundaries can also be crossed consciously or unconsciously in these spaces. Part of the adolescent phase is to distance oneself from the parental home and to go one’s own way. Your child wants to find out who he or she is. Therefore, boundaries are tested and personal freedom is sought. Social media offers many opportunities for this.

Your role as parents

It is okay if you do not supervise your child everywhere. Independence is positive and should be supported and critically accompanied by you. However, this includes preparing your child for this by making him or her aware of the risks and opportunities of digital media and showing him or her ways to deal with them. Mutually agreed media rules can help. This should include not only media times, but also selected media content and app permissions. However, such rules should always be renegotiated to fit your child’s age.

Gradually relinquish control and involve your child in all decisions. Only when it understands your concerns can it implement rules. Nevertheless, there will also be moments – especially during puberty – when your child does not adhere to it. Try to stay calm and keep seeking conversation. Above all, be responsive if he or she ever reaches his or her limits and don’t judge your child for it. After all, that’s part of growing up.

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