How much time is it OK for kids to spend online and how do you control that? I’ve written about screen time before and how we shouldn’t be scared of it; it’s not the total baddy it’s made out to be and, like it or not, it is an intrinsic part of our children’s lives and their futures. The amount of time kids spend online, though, is obviously an issue for parents and it was the subject of a phone-in on BBC Three Counties Radio this week.
The show was based on a survey by Action Aid which found that 23% of parents found it difficult to get their kids off their computers or smartphones. I was invited on to talk about the subject and I think I got the presenter round from seeing it as all the parents’ fault. Parents are always blamed, but this is not fair, we’re in such new territory here and the progress of change is so fast that adults find it difficult to keep up. We’re all trying to manage our own understanding and use of new technology, and parents have to do that at the same time as somehow knowing all the answers for their kids.
It was cheering to read this other report from Pew about parents monitoring their teens’ use of social media which found that mostly parents are getting it right! Hurrah! It’s not often you read a media report which just shrugs and says “yeah, most parents are doing OK actually…” – the media does so love to present parents as incompetent or scared. It’s really not much of a news story that parents are doing alright thanks very much.
I think what we can take from this is that even if you’re one of the 23% who finds it difficult to manage the amount of time your kids spend online when they’re young, don’t worry, you’ll have cracked it by the time they’re teenagers. That’s my logic anyway…
In the meantime, if you’d like to hear my advice on dealing with the issue now, you can listen to the radio programme here.