Parenting in the Digital Age: How Are We doing?
To coincide with the Digital Families 2017 conference in London on 12 October, 2017, Parent Zone launches its latest report, asking children and young people for their views on how parents are helping them meet the challenges of the digital age. By Eleanor Levy, editor of Parent Info
It's not easy being a digital parent
The world wide web is now over a quarter of a century old. Which means that an entire generation of parents has been grappling with a challenge that no previous generation has had to face.
Parents are trying to find a way through and, unsurprisingly, they are finding it tough.
Often upsetting stories in the media on subjects such as cyberbullying, online grooming and the long term, negative effects of excessive screen time on everything from mental health to posture, have made parents at best wary and, at worst, terrified of the online world their children will inevitably explore if they are to thrive in a digital world.
Once, safety messages centred around limiting screen time and restricting many of the very features that make these services attractive to the young people using them.
Parents were encouraged to fight fires, rather than giving their children the knowledge to prevent the flames being fanned in the first place.
Advice to keep the computer in a family room became obsolete once the internet went mobile and could follow young users outside the home. Messages about blocking access and parental controls were questioned once studies began to suggest that they not only didn’t make children safe, but that they actually had a negative effect.
Research from organisations such as the Oxford Internet Institute turned attention to the crucial role of parents in nurturing online resilience in their children, and the importance of allowing young internet users to develop the ability to cope with whatever the online world throws at them through managed, independent use.
With such conflicting messages being directed towards them, what were parents supposed to do?
And what support can we, as professionals tasked with helping families thrive in the digital age, offer them?
We decided to ask the people at the sharp end of digital parenting – the children themselves.
How does the next generation think the previous one is handling issues like sexting, sharenting and online abuse in its many forms? Are the online rules they set their children being practised by the adults who are enforcing them?
What more can we, as adults, do to help them?
Read the full report to find out what they told us.