digital parenting

Embracing the digital world to minimise the risks

At a recent presentation I gave on digital parenting, I had some feedback from a mum who said “I thought I was going to walk out of here petrified about this world, but I actually feel empowered now. So thank you.”

Aside from being a pretty lovely testimonial for what I do, it is certainly what I want for all parents out there. There is no doubt that this world can be a scary one. There is no doubt that there are predators out there and pornography and cyberbullying and sexting and gaming obsessions. And yes they can be a very challenging component of growing up in a digital world. And yes we need strategies and understanding to deal with these.

But we need to understand this too.

This world with all its technology is not going anywhere. Your kids are going to be engulfed by it. What we want for them however is to be in control. We want them to be reaping the benefits. We want them to grow and thrive and connect and create and collaborate despite those risks.

For a while now many have addressed this space from a paradigm of risk management. Yes we need to manage the risks. But there are so many positives to gain.

We know embracing the positives goes a long way to mitigating the negatives.

I read this week an article that berated parents for giving in to buying their kids fidget spinners. They were described as simply another way we were preventing out kids from being bored and we are constantly giving in to their demands to always have something to do to fill in their time.

Not only did I think this was a very long bow to draw, I think it is just another way to sledge parents and create an all pervasive paranoia about many of our parenting decisions today.

As a side note, my 5 year old woke up this morning to research on youtube how to make fidget spinners out of Lego. He was successful in his creation and is looking forward to coming home to try some more designs. He is learning through play. He is creating and testing and analysing and taking delight in his achievement.

There are so many opportunities for our kids to learn from the technology around them, regardless of whether they are a short lived fad. We can incorporate the old school with the new. We can learn from each other.

So harness those things your kids love. Find their strengths and let them run with it to see where it takes them. If kids are having a good time where they are at. If they are confident in what they are doing. If they are enjoying their interactions and their experiences, then they are far less likely to go searching for or find themselves in amongst the adverse or the destructive.

Because there are positives with kids connecting on social media. There are positives with kids gaming. There are positives from the formal and informal learning that happens in their digital lives. There are positives from the online connections and support networks. If we want to protect our kids and have them thrive and grow and learn then we may just have to embrace this world a little more, to ensure both ourselves and our kids feel a little less fear and a little more empowered.

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