Parenting digital kids?
If you sometimes feel lonely and unprepared as you take steps to craft appropriate media guidelines for your family, check out Melinda Gates’ digital parenting essay I Spent My Career in Technology: I Wasn’t Prepared for Its Effect on My Kids, appearing in the August 24, 2017, edition of the Washington Post. Her family experiences some of the same 21st Century challenges.
Despite spending years working at Microsoft, Gates describes her amazement at the pace of change and the ways that digital activities have taken over, in different ways, the lives of her children. She compares and contrasts her older child’s technology experiences with the increased access of her younger daughter. And she thinks about and shares a range of resources to help parents understand more about digital wellness and how to raise children who understand the digital world where they live.
Despite the challenges Gates believes that the digital world offers more opportunities than risks, but parental guidance is key. She notes that a plan is crucial if children and teens are to learn to live well in their always-changing world. (Read my post Make a Digital Action Plan for New Gadgets.) She pinpoints several areas that she has thought about as she goes about parenting, and while her suggestions include topics that many parents already consider, knowing that high-tech professionals confront the same parenting challenges is reassuring.
Gates’ Suggestions (but be sure the read the entire parenting article to get details):
- Learn about the issue
- Unplug (You can also read my post Don’t Be Afraid of Device-free Times in Your Family.)
- Have tough conversations
- Advocate for your kids
- Make a plan
Best Comment in Melinda Gates’ Essay
Phones and apps aren’t good or bad by themselves, but for adolescents who don’t yet have the emotional tools to navigate life’s complications and confusions, they can exacerbate the difficulties of growing up: learning how to be kind, coping with feelings of exclusion, taking advantage of freedom while exercising self-control.