Be Your Child’s ‘Media Mentor’ – stop nagging, start engaging!

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Posted by: Sue Atkins

Parenting in the age of smartphones can be really stressful. Health experts from the World Health Organisation say we should limit kids’ screen time to a “healthy level.” But infants aside, that doesn’t mean zero time.

There’s a growing push to encourage parents to be media mentors rather than gatekeepers.

It’s not lots of limits, but it’s not being hands-off, either.

So what does that mean?

Researcher Alexandra Samuel surveyed 10,000 families & found that some parents put strict limits on what their kids could watch or play (“limiters”), especially when they were 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!  Instead of only nagging, complaining & arguing, sit down & get involved – playing, chatting & asking a lot of questions, and observing your child’s gameplay.

Become more of an interested observer, supporter & role model.

Children are watching and learning from us 24 hours a day, even when we’re not even aware of it. So, if you are constantly on your smartphone, engaging is something other that people around you, they’re going to absorb that this is an OK way to treat your family members & copy that behaviour.

On the other hand, the positive side is that most of us use technology in the course of our work, and in our personal passions to learn about the world, catch up on the News, to discover new music, and to keep in touch with friends and family. These are all positive things that we can share with our kids by modelling that, as well.

Try

• Talking about media and tech.

• Playing, watching & learning together.

• Teaching new skills.

• Following your kid’s interests.

• Doing your research. 

High-quality content makes a difference in how children interact with media. Parents who seek out good content by checking reviews, asking friends, and exploring content themselves expose their children to better content.

Find a balance that works for you, ‘Talk and Teach’ your kids how to stay safe online and don’t be afraid to put realistic boundaries around their tech time either.

There’s little point in nagging about coming off a great game to tidy their room or do their physics homework. Do ‘ING’ activities with them regularly, regardless of their age to connect and have fun with them. CyclING, BowlING, ExplorING, PlayING, ReadING, ClimbING, CookING – you get the idea..

Remember children spell LOVE T-I-M-E !

Change your nagging into exploring by becoming your child’s Media Mentor.

Try it this week and let me know how you get on.

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