Parenting in the digital age may sometimes seem daunting, but parents can be effective supporters for their children and young people by remembering the basics: balance and boundaries and critical thinking and communication.
Balance and boundaries
Earlier this year, the UK Chief Medical Officers put out a commentary on screen balance and stated that “Even though no causal effect is evident from existing research between screen-based activities, or the amount of time spent using screens, and any particular negative effect, it does not mean that there is no effect. It is still wise to take a precautionary approach.“ It would seem clear that finding a balance between offline activities and online activities would be the right approach.
One way that parents and carers can support their families in achieving a healthy and balanced digital diet, is by getting ideas from the Digital 5 a Day framework announced by the UK Children’s Commissioner: Connect, Be Mindful, Be Active, Give to Others, Get Creative. And it works for parents too!
Critical thinking and communication
So you like the latest devices and want to introduce them into your family? Not a problem, but engage in some critical thinking first: Who can this device benefit? Harm? What is the best-case scenario if I purchase this for my family? Worst-case scenario? Where can I go to learn more about the safety and privacy settings for the device? About the features of the device? When should our family be device-free?
Feel free to add other questions but be sure to dig in and ask yourself and your family the tough questions. And as always, communication is key – ask your children how they are doing, before, during and after involvement with the device (or app or new game).
However, you decide to integrate technology into your family, you can achieve balance and set boundaries that will work for you. And critical thinking and communication will help you maintain that balance.