Kids and screen time: time to stop judging and start parenting?

Kids and screen time: time to stop judging and start parenting?

Have you ever had a sharp jolt to your way of thinking? I had that experience this morning and it’s given me cause for reflection about my attitude to the inter-generational arguments about screen time.

An article by Joanna Orlando, analyst on digital literacy and wellbeing, challenged my usual approach to the topic. She suggests that we should shift our focus from the debate about how much time they spend on screen time and instead focus our energy on what they are doing and why they find it meaningful, to understand how we can guide them properly.

This sentence was like a light going off for me:

“We have little understanding of their activities yet expect our advice to be accepted by them as meaningful and relevant.” – Dr Joanna Orlando

Wow! That rocked my world. It made me think about the difference between how I approach the world and the perspective of younger generations.

I accept that I am not a digital native. I’m lucky: I have been able to transfer my skills from typewriter to word processor to computer. I’ve had employment that ensured I was given ample exposure to a wide variety of rapid technological changes, and opportunities to update my skills as the world changed.

I regularly use a variety of social media platforms, use various apps and programs for entertainment and socialising, and generally consider myself fairly “hip to the groove” (a saying which indicates I might not be) and quite open-minded. I’m a citizen of the digital world – I even learnt to floss by watching YouTube – so I just assumed that the kids and I are on a level playing field. But to assume that is wrong.  They are not my generation and I can see now that my experience of the world starts from a completely different perspective. As parents, we need to view their online life differently, and start seeing this world through their eyes, rather than our own. As Dr Joanna Orlando says, “We parent the whole child, not just the offline part.”

If you are reading this and feel that perhaps you’d like a new perspective I can thoroughly recommend taking a few minutes to really digest the whole article.

As Joanna advises, “It’s a new year and time for a new attitude around how we guide our kids online.”

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