Clearing a Path for Parents through Today’s Digital Chaos
There’s always a lot of expert advice when it comes to kids and technology and not all of it is either helpful or useful. We try to focus the Qustodio Blog on sharing relevant information. We know that the real experts when it comes to kids are you: all the moms and dads out there on the front lines. You see at first hand how technology is affecting your kids daily.
Last week, we spoke with Samantha Kemp-Jackson, known in the blogosphere as Multiple Mayhem Mamma and asked her about some of the issues facing parents. As well as being a real life mom of four, Sam is parenting writer for The Huffington Post. Sam had some great advice: getting involved and, rather than just talking about being a good digital citizen, showing your child by example.
Read the full interview:
#### What do you think is more problematic: being too restrictive with a kid or allowing them too much, uncontrolled access to technology?
Definitely allowing them too much, uncontrolled access to technology. Let’s face it: there have been generations of children that grew up without the Internet, YouTube and Facebook, and they have been just fine. What is problematic is the information and imagery that is available online, not to mention the spectre of cyberbullying. As parents, we need to shield our children appropriately and if it means restricting access, so be it.
#### A Telenor study defined parental involvement as key to helping kids be safer online and pointed out that over 100 million kids in 14 countries would be going online with no guidance in the next 5 years. Should parents try harder to get involved?
Parents are obliged to get involved – that’s our job, isn’t it? Parents should always know what their kids are doing, particularly online.
#### Can using tools like Qustodio help that parent-child dialogue?
Software and online tools that filter or modify searches are always a good idea; the trick is to make sure that the filters and algorithms are realistic so that the important information that kids may need is not also filtered out.
#### Is the press guilty of desensitizing parents to cyberbullying and actually making it worse by making them feel helpless as Larry Magid suggested in a recent article?
I don’t think that the press is guilty of desensitizing parents to cyberbullying. As a matter of fact, I think that the press has done a great job of bringing the problem to the forefront and making parents who would otherwise be unaware of the situation up to date about what’s going on. Unfortunately there have been too many instances of children being bullied online, sometimes with tragic results, so making more people aware of the situation is never a bad idea. Education is the first step towards ending the problem.
#### As more of our work lives become digital, is it possible to emulate a healthy tech-life balance? If so, how?
It is always possible to have a better work-life balance; the key is committing to doing so and following through. Life is really distracting these days as we are inundated with information through a variety of channels. This being the case, we also have the power to turn off and tune out, which is as easy as turning off the computer, cell phone or iPad for a time. It may seem hard to do but ultimately it makes a huge difference in the amount of stress that is felt as a result of always being “on.”
#### There have been a lot of accusations lately that parents overshare online, which can compromise kids’ privacy and teach them bad social media habits? Do you agree?
I think that yes – there are some parents who overshare and no, there are many who understand the repercussions of doing so, and who are moderate in their sharing regarding their kids. At the end of the day, parents are the ones who teach their kids good habits, whether it’s online, via social media or otherwise, so parents should always have their kids’ best interest in mind.
#### How much is too much when it comes to sharing information online?
I would say that the rule of thumb is this: if you have to think twice about whether to post that status update, picture or video of your child, it’s probably a good idea not to post it.
#### Is it ever too late to start teaching better online use? How would you approach this topic with a 16-year old who has never received any guidance or restrictions?
As with most things, it’s never too late. For a 16-year-old who’s never had any guidance or restrictions, I’d take a measured approach. They at this point would have obviously been exposed to a lot of questionable online content and we all know that it’s impossible to “unsee” what’s already been seen. For a teen who’s had a run at “doing their own thing” online for a long time, I’d suggest talking to them about what they’ve seen online, what they find questionable and why, and use their own observations as a starting point for a discussion. This point could be a gateway into talking to them about some of the dangers online as well as some more positive best practices.
#### Parents worry. How can they worry less about their kids online?
Parents worry because they don’t have all of the information. Parents can ease their worries somewhat by knowing what their kids are doing online, and having a firm grip on the availability and access to the digital world. It’s no different from allowing a child out into the world outside – the digital world can and is one that needs to be ventured into with caution.
#### What is the biggest challenge you face personally when it comes to kids and technology?
I’d say that the amount of time that my children spend in front of the screen is always on the top of my mind. Also setting up parameters about what they’re watching or viewing online is very important.
#### I have a small niece who rejects non-touch phones and thinks that they are broken if they don’t respond to touch. Do you have a fun/funny story you can share about kids and technology?
Hmmm…just that my 10-year-old daughter is horrified when I tell her that when I was a kid, there was no Internet, home computers, cell phones, Netflix, DVDs, etc. She thinks that I’m from the Stone Age and can’t even imagine life without digital technology.