Kids today are using screens more, earlier, and on a wider variety of devices than ever before, and more and more parents are seeking help in taking control of their children’s screen time.
I’ve recently become the chauffeur for my son and his group of friends, as they go to for a weekly gaming afternoon/hangout at one boy’s house. It’s clear that my role as the driver is to be invisible – they talk and goof around with each other in the car as if I’m not there, and if I do interject in their conversation, there’s a moment when they all freeze, confused as to where this voice from above came from, before ignoring it and carrying on. I’m there to hover on the outside, not to get involved.
As a family, we’re watching a lot less advertising these days – at least, I thought we were. That’s because most of our family watching is on Netflix, which has no commercials, and the few shows we watch on regular TV are recorded in advance and ads are skipped over. I can easily go months without being aware of what new movies are coming up, which new developments have occurred in the world of toothpaste, and what new packaging strides Coke and Pepsi have made.
How can you help pre-teens understand the value of their personal information and empower them to take steps to manage and protect it? Data Defenders, an educational game for children ages 10 to12, lifts the curtain on data collection by showing how apps and games can find out all kinds of things about them and by providing steps they can take to control the collection of personal information online.
My middle daughter, age 13, read the novel The Outsiders last year. She loved it, and like any good mom who was raised in the 1980s, I bought her a DVD copy of the classic movie. She loved the film version, too.
When we bought a cellphone for our son, we worried. We worried about how it would affect his brain to be hooked into social media all the time. We worried about online bullying and if he’d be respectful and responsible. We worried that he’d become a video screen monster who never looked up and only grunted in response to our questions about his day at the dinner table.
We are Netflix subscribers, and that means we’re no strangers to the Binge Watch. It’s just so easy to curl up on the couch, especially on a rainy day or a sick day, and plug into a show. Each episode plays automatically, one after the other; you don’t even have to move, except to occasionally confirm that you’re still watching when Netflix prompts you, every three episodes or so.
My three kids all know the password to my phone.
It’s because I rely on them to play secretary for me when I’m driving. If the phone rings or there is a bing of a text, 99% of the time it’s a member of my immediate family trying to get in touch with something relatively pressing.
I work from home, and I think that means my kids get more sick days than the average student. It’s pretty easy for them to convince me that they need a day of rest if they have a bit of a cough or a slight fever. I admit I’m probably too easily swayed and I do tend to cave in when they look up at me with big sad eyes from where they have swooned onto the couch.