Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Get Switched on to Kids' Digital Lives ; What Children Get Up to Online Is Often a Mystery to Their Parents. Here Dr Jodi Gold, Author of Screen-Smart Parenting, Gives LISA SALMON Some Top Tips

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Get Switched on to Kids' Digital Lives ; What Children Get Up to Online Is Often a Mystery to Their Parents. Here Dr Jodi Gold, Author of Screen-Smart Parenting, Gives LISA SALMON Some Top Tips

Article excerpt

MANY parents are a long way from tech-savvy, knowing far less about today's gadgets and devices than their 'digital native' children.

But 'digital immigrant' parents not really understanding the technology that drives the modern world doesn't mean their children will use such technology any less. And that means mum and dad have a parental duty to be as informed as possible about their kids' digital lives.

Easy to say, but perhaps not so easy to do - after all, it's not something your own parents, or even your friends, are likely to be able to provide expert advice on. But child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr Jodi Gold thinks she can - and that's why she's written her new book Screen-Smart Parenting.

"As a parent and as a child and adolescent psychiatrist, I wanted to develop a more thoughtful approach to parenting with digital technology," she says.

"You can run, but you can't hide can run, but you can't hide Y from the digital age. It is here to stay, so I wanted to develop a more fearless approach where we embrace it and control it so we are not controlled by it."

Jodi, a mother-of-three, stresses that all decisions about digital issues need to be both age-appropriate and related to what parents already know about their children and their family culture. In other words, parents need to rely as much as possible on their own instincts.

One obvious aid to navigating the minefield that is the internet is parental controls which can help stop children accessing inappropriate web content.

However, Jodi says she doesn't generally recommend parental controls and filters.

"They do work for some families and they may be necessary if your children are truly misbehaving online, but I believe we should allow our kids to make small mistakes online. They can't build resilience or learn to navigate the world if we restrict their access.

"If your child ends up on an inappropriate website then use it as a teaching moment."

She points out that most teenagers and tweens can get around parental controls with one or two clicks, and says that "transparency" is what she would encourage instead.

"I recommend being clear with your kids about which sites are appropriate and forget about the filters and spyware," she advises.

advocating that parents should simply tell their kids which sites they can go on and then leave them to it. She says every family should have rules around technology, and explains: "These guidelines should But Jodi isn't advocating that parents should simply tell their kids which sites they can go on and then leave them to it. She says every family should have rules around technology, and explains: "These guidelines should reflect your family's culture and values.

change as your children grow and "The rules will change as your children grow and as they learn to use technology in a responsible and balanced way. …

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