Parenting in the Digital Era
Tips for separated parents with children under 12
Parenting in the digital era has brought with it a range of problems for parents trying to monitor their children. Unfortunately, often these problems extend beyond catching Pokemon and re-enacting Fortnite dances!
It is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid the prevalence of digital devices and media, especially with schools rolling out digital devices as a core part of the school curriculum for all ages. However, digital devices and media platforms can have a range of benefits if used in moderation and appropriately.
This difficult parenting space can become increasingly challenging when parents are separated. As most would agree, communication is the most important requirement for parents who are separated and trying to navigate the challenges of the digital era. Often children will have an iPad or tablet that they use for school, or which they bring between homes for entertainment. It is important that both parents are on the same page with respect to parenting in relation to digital devices and media.
Below are some tips for separated parents to consider:
Be a good role model
Digital devices are not just something that children engage with. Adults spend a significant amount of time on their devices, often more time than children. It is important that both parents focus on spending quality time with their children when in their care. Put down your device and focus on engaging in quality face to face time with your children.
There are a range of options that can be utilised in relation to limiting your child’s usage of their device and there are various programs that can be used to help you gain some control. Consider implementing things such as parental controls on devices. In addition, keep up to date with emerging technology and make a concerted effort to educate yourselves about contemporary digital changes and new devices. No doubt your children will be aware of the latest developments, so it’s important that you are too! If you learn something noteworthy, share your knowledge with the other parent.
Don’t use digital devices as a pacifier
Often parents’ resort to digital devices as a way to keep children quiet or calm children down. We get it, parents are human and sometimes this is the easy option. However, try to avoid using technology as the only means to calm the children down, sometimes other options can be more effective. Similarly, be wary when using the digital devices as a means of reward and punishment and then forcing that upon the other parent when the children are in their care. Confiscating the iPad and returning an angry child to the other parent may not always be the best way to manage behaviour. Consider how you are affecting both the children and whether there are other options for discipline that you can both employ.
Don’t play the blame game
Often children try to test the limits when living with separated parents. It is easy for the children to say things like “Mum lets me do it at her house” and for parents to easily react by blaming the other parent. Talk to each other before playing the blame game. Firstly, consider the possibility that your child may be using the other parent as a scapegoat and twisting the truth to get their own way. Alternatively, if the other parent is doing something you do not agree with, try and talk to them about it and have a discussion about whether more appropriate guidelines need to be set.
Create guidelines together
If possible, discuss with each other what guidelines you are both going to set for the children when using digital devices and media. Create a united front so that the children are required to follow the same rules at each parent’s home. For example, keep family mealtimes, social gatherings and the children’s bedrooms as places where no media is allowed. Recharge devices overnight and in a room outside the bedrooms to avoid the temptation of picking up the device at night time.
Limit screen time for the little ones
There has been a lot of research surrounding the benefits of digital devices and media. As a general rule of thumb, avoid digital media for toddlers younger than 18 to 24 months as much as possible. For children aged 18 to 24 months, engage with digital media alongside them because they often learn from watching and talking with you. Try to limit screen use for preschool children ages 2 to 5 and when using digital media try to engage in co-viewing, rather than leaving the children to their own devices. For teens, focus on building awareness of the risks and appropriate behaviour when engaged online.
You may also find this article useful: Apps for separated parents
If you have any questions or should you need any assistance please do not hesitate to contact us at Southern Waters Legal.