Our year is coming to a close and educators, parents and students are looking forward to a change in routine. But, as we head into the summer, I want to be sure to address one of the biggest parenting frustrations I hear about time and time again: setting screen limits, picking appropriate media, and figuring out Snapchat. We’re raising “digital natives” but we’re supposed to be the experts? Actually, no. It turns out, the most effective way to help your kid have a healthy relationship to media is by being their media mentor.
Many of us think we need to have all the answers. Or we just stick our heads in the sand and hope for the best. But, as so often happens, the middle road is juuuuust right. Researcher Alexandra Samuel surveyed 10,000 North American families and found that some parents put strict limits on what their kids could watch or play (“limiters”), especially when they’re young, while others (especially parents of teens) let their kids control screen time and embrace the idea that more tech is good tech (“enablers”).
But about a third of the parents — whom she calls “media mentors” — consistently engaged in media with their kids, despite their ages, and these kids had better outcomes. Kids of media mentors were less likely to access porn, chat online with a stranger, and impersonate an adult or peer online. Exactly what you’re hoping for as a parent, right? We have the power to talk with our kids about what they’re seeing, to understand the media in new ways with them, to help them see how it might relate to their outside world, how to look up from their media…. Don’t we want kids today to have people around them who are interacting with them while they’re interacting with media?
In addition, I wanted to leave you with a list of the top picks for out-of-school learning from our expert teachers. With these great apps, games, and websites, kids can practice core skills, as well as pursue lifelong learning in whatever interests them most. Parents, take note!
Have a great week and don’t forget to use Common Sense.