Written by Bruce Feiler, the article describes how families go about addressing and solving the day-to-day digital challenges that occur in 21st Century life. Feller spent six weeks asking parents, via social media, to share their rules and strategies related to raising children in the digital world. He describes in some detail the parents’ ideas, including thoughts about mobile phones, homework, digital devices and bedtime, social media use, consequences, and how families go about setting up phone-free family time.
While soliciting answers to 20 questions, as Feller did, is not scientific research, he did gather some interesting information about the challenges of raising children and the conversations that occur between children and their parents in the 21st Century digital world. Moreover, the article begins and ends with delightful references to the well-known musical, The Music Man, and its song,Trouble in River City.
My favorite digital parenting idea, relayed by Feller, came from a family that adopted a strategy for keeping children focused during device-free activities. They told their children that if a device was picked up, the parents would get to see texts on that phone and read them aloud. Clever idea.
Each month I receive several teen and women’s magazines to look over, and I immediately go through each one to tear out scads of perfume advertisements. My allergies react to the scented pages, and it is much easier to read the articles when I vanquish the perfume ads.
Recently I began thinking about how many advertising pages — perfumes and everything else — publishers cram into each issue that we read, knowing that almost all of them focus on female body image and portray unrealistic, and usually unattainable perfection. These days, so much of what kids see is digital, but these magazines still loom large in the lives of pre-teen and adolescents girls.
In December I read an article about a study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics describing how different types and amounts of parent/child speech interactions during infant play may increase or decrease, depending on the type of toys that the child uses.
The new research, though conducted on a small sample of participants, finds an association between talking electronic toys and and reduced parent/child interaction during playtime, and the results add to an existing body of literature that observes how electronic toys affect a child’s language development.
Summer is a good time for parents to learn more about the social media activities of their children, developing additional skill and more understanding about what’s happening in the digital whirl that is a huge part of kids’ social lives.
The goal is not to prevent children from exploring — that’s not realistic. Instead, parents need to gather enough information to be able to keep an eye on activities, facilitate discussions when required, and intervene when it’s necessary to insulate their kids from impulsive digital behavior on computers, smartphones, and tablets. Continue reading “Summer, Social Media, and Digital-Age Parenting”→
I’ve just finished re-reading The Price of Privilege, a 2008 book by Madeline Levine. Last week at a professional development event at my school, I heard Dr. Levine speak, while taking nearly three pages of notes and recalling some of the parenting strategies my husband and I used when our daughter, now out of graduate school, was in middle and high school.
Almost every concern that Dr. Levine raised — perfectionism, discontent, and insecurity — is familiar after years of parenting and teaching. I especially like her descriptions of effective parenting. Most importantly, when I read her book four years ago and reread it again last week, I thought about sleep and how much of a priority it needs to be for parents and children.
After the lecture my husband and I thought back to our daughter’s middle and high school years, considering all of the things we did well or could have done better. In the process we remembered the emphasis our family placed on getting enough sleep and eliminating computer screens each evening — sometimes to our daughter’s chagrin. Continue reading “Kids, Parenting, Gadgets, and Sleep…”→
Instead, use your energy to learn as much as you can. A parent’s goal is to develop enough knowledge to provide guidance and supervision based on significant family values, even as these media continue to evolve. Continued learning is always required if one aims to help children avoid potential pitfalls.
Thinking that social media will eventually disappear wastes time and energy.
Five Tips to Help You Get Going
1. Ask your child on a regular basis — and definitely without belittling yourself — to help you learn a new technology skill. Start with some of the easier web 2.0 interactive sites such as Wordle to make cool word designs or Diigo to save your bookmarks in a place accessible from anywhere. Keep learning.