We check our phones upwards of 50 times a day – but when your toddler starts demanding to FaceTime their grandma, we get nervous. It’s wild out there on the parenting frontier of this new digital world. Even though technology is here to stay, somehow when it comes to our kids we want them to bask in a golden age that looks a little like the scene out of ‘Then and Now’ – just four tween girls riding their bicycles to the library singing ‘Oh My Darling’ from a retro radio. So what’s a parent to do when faced with glowing screens at every corner? It’s not all crashing asteroids and dooming apocalypse. Here’s a few simple new age tips to navigate the uncharted tech territory.
Worried as we are that the creative brains of our children are being fried by the Baby Shark Youtube video, Jordan Shapiro, in his latest book, The New Childhood: Raising Kids to Thrive in a Connected World, makes his case for a parenting philosophy update that puts technology center stage. Shapiro says, no scare tactics, no shame, no guilt. “We know how to use technology. We know what values we want our kids to learn. Let’s start cultivating those values within their digital lives.”
Plug in together
For all the fear mongering, negative headlines, there are also positive effects from technology as children’s media expert Sarah Dewitt reports in her Ted Talk. Across the board, results prove that interacting with your child in their digital space whether that’s just sparking a conversation about their game or co-screening with them can promote emotional growth.
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Offline Play Hacks
International family consultant and Simplicity Parenting author Kim John Payne notes that our kids are overstimulated by not just screens but too many toys. He recommends to keep open-ended toys, like blocks or simple dolls and art supplies and only allow a few favourites to be accessible. A simple, safe play environment facilitates basic creativity and resourcefulness but also can reignite their interest away from the screen.
Natural Tech Habits
Shapiro is also a big advocate for getting digital with your kids in nature. “…It’s not that the tech separates us from nature,” he advises. “Kids can be out there using thermometers and tracking data about the weather. There’s so much technology available to actually help them appreciate the natural world, but you have to teach them to see those things together.”