Tech-savvy parenting: raising safe children in a digital world

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Date:19 September 2014 Tags:, ,

Reality check: you are no longer the chief technology officer in your home. That’s from the introduction to a new book by parenting expert Nikki Bush and leading technology commentator Arthur Goldstuck, titled Tech-Savvy Parenting: A Guide to Raising Safe Children in a Digital World. In this extract, the authors deconstruct the siren song of social media and technology…

“A real conversation is playing itself out before adults’ disbelieving eyes… It disturbs us because we think that it is replacing communication, but instead it is embracing the kind of communication that is reshaping the world.”

These lines represent the best of social media and messaging. But they also indicate the worst of what social media can mean. We can find case studies aplenty about children who find the virtual world of online communications so compelling that they abandon the real world and withdraw from social interaction with family and friends.

In most of these cases, however, the withdrawal already began before technology intervened. Lack of communication within the family and absence of parental interest in the child provide fertile ground for cyber-withdrawal.

That, however, is the exception rather than the rule. Almost every new fad in social networks among children is driven by peer-group pressure. While that does, of course, imply the impulse of children to follow the crowd, it also denotes social engagement with friends and peers. And that is exactly what social networking represents.

It offers a benefit to parents as well: if you understand social media, you have an additional window into your child’s world. You may not be able to control this world or even your child’s behaviour in it, but with knowledge, you can guide and manage your child’s place in this world.

Read more in PM’s October 2014 issue – on sale 22 September.

Extract from Tech-Savvy parenting: A Guide to Raising Safe Children in a Digital World, published by Bookstorm