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Election 2017: our manifesto call to action!

‘It's time for every parent to have access to iParenting courses’

The internet has made parenting more challenging for today's families. Parent Zone CEO Vicki Shotbolt argues that one simple thing will help protect children in the digital age - and it's time politicians took note.

You would imagine that something that made the biggest difference to children’s health, wellbeing and life chances would be worthy of some leadership from government. A small policy team perhaps? Or even a unit. Possibly a non-departmental public body? Well, that something is parenting and you would be wrong because it has none of the above.

In a move that took us back to the mid-nineties, the incoming coalition government of 2010 eradicated parenting from Westminster when it replaced the Department for Children, Schools and Families with the Department for Education.

Should you care? At Parent Zone, we think so. And not just because the ‘quality of at home parenting’ has the single biggest impact on a child’s educational achievement.[1] (Parenting support would probably be a better way to help ‘ordinary families’ than grammar schools, Mrs May.)

It’s important for a whole raft of reasons.

In a digital age, where the rules of parenting are being tested and challenged every day, we think it is critical. Parents need to have conversations with their children about topics they feel ill equipped to tackle. Parents are struggling to agree sharenting norms. The technology itself makes it more difficult to set and enforce boundaries and increasingly we are hearing from children who say they think that technology is spoiling family life. The old ways of developing good enough parenting norms are struggling with the speed of digital change.

It is time for every parent to have access to iParenting courses.

Parent Zone created the first and only parenting programme designed to help parents take their offline parenting online. Hundreds of parents complete it online every month, with many more receiving face-to-face support from our network of Parenting in the Digital Age trainers. But hundreds isn’t enough. Every parent should have access to this kind of support. We know that parenting is the thing that helps children to develop the resilience they need to flourish online. More so than filters or even co-use.  The research keeps pointing us to what’s needed and it is time to respond.[2]

We are calling on all parties to make a simple election pledge. To guarantee every parent has access to an iParenting course to ensure that the generation growing up now has the parenting they need to stay safe and flourish online and offline.

Some amazing work has been done providing parents with information about the digital world. Industry, NGOs and schools have done an incredible job giving parents information about online risks, safety and using tools and settings. What’s needed now is parenting support, and this election is a chance to deliver it. 

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[1] The Impact of Parental Involvement, Parental Support and Family Education on Pupil Achievement and Adjustment: A Literature Review by Professor Charles Desforges with Alberto Abouchaar, 2003, Department for Education and Skills.

[2] Building Children’s Online Resilience: /article/building-childrens-online-resilience