Did you used to dream of having green eggs and ham for breakfast? Maybe you did. If you’re like me, you likely treasure the bedtime stories read by your mom or dad, or grams or gramps. And for me it was also time I spent with my four younger brothers reading, teaching them to read and gifting them the joy of reading.
Bedtime stories, or reading by the fire, are some of my favorite memories from childhood, and as it turns out, the very act of reading aloud has benefits that will carry children through the rest of their lives.
Whether it’s Little House on the Prairie or Harry Potter, reading aloud maintains its magic: it helps develop attention span and memory, stimulates the imagination, and provides a key bonding experience. Many of us relish carrying on the tradition of reading aloud to our little ones, whether they are nieces and nephews, grandchildren, or children of our own.
We think that reading aloud, by a trusted guide, is also the perfect entrée into the digital world and that can mean young kids going online. The Web can be a vast learning tool for children but can obviously present safety problems of its own.
The balance between helping children discover the wonders of the Web and keeping them safe from threats is a delicate one. With children spending more time online than ever it is important to fully understand just how much of an impact their connectivity is having on kids and also on their parents.
AVG recently did some research which shows that 42% of parents worry that their child is spending too much time online. It also showed that half of parents think that, by age 12, their child will be more web savvy than them. It’s clear that parents feel ill-equipped to guide a generation of kids that, from an early age, are living out their lives online. They are unsure of what their kids are exposed to and are uncertain as to how to keep them safe.
I celebrate the diversity of the Internet, but I also firmly recommend educating our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. It’s important to convey a solid value system and to help children realize that there are both good things and bad things on the Internet, before they wander off online on their own. This can help them understand that an Internet activity that may seem like fun can actually be harmful, and also lay important groundwork for the future, for instance in avoiding online traps such as cyber-bullying.
To reap the benefits of reading aloud to your close ones along with providing a fun, educational guide to online safety, we’ve developed a unique click-and-tell series called “Magda and Mo” with the international children’s safety organization, Childnet.
You can access our first one here, the fascinating adventure of “The Pirate’s Donut” because what could be more compelling than pirates and donuts? It’s a story and lively experience that you can share together, have a conversation and instill the ideals of online safety and boundaries.
The Internet opens up a wide world to our young loved ones. Let’s make sure that they have the tools to be able to navigate safely.
June 4, 2014