Instead, says Dr. Shapiro, parents can incorporate digital gaming as part of family time and “interact with your children, engage with your children – especially when they are young”. During this critical time (usually before age 12), kids crave conversations with their parents – whether it’s the latest YouTube video they’ve seen or a new video game they’ve been playing – and parents should take the opportunity to interfere in developing their child’s internal dialogue.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also endorses the idea that parents should serve as media mentors to their children.
Part of the exploration that parents can engage in with their children could also include interactions on a family social media account, where parents “talk about how photos are shared with relatives and how we appropriately comment on Uncle Joey’s posts “, Dr. Shapiro said. This modeling of appropriate behaviors takes place all the time in the physical spaces that children occupy and is just as important for modeling in their digital spaces.
Respect the need for communication
Although parents who see children type silly messages with each other – emojis with no words, a series of ha that take up half a screen – think they are meaningless: “For a lot of kids, this is their only way of communicating right now. Want to.” we don’t cut them off, ”said Eileen Kennedy-Moore, a New Jersey practicing child psychologist and co-author of a free e-book titled” Friendships Growing During the Coronavirus Pandemic. “
However, it is important to manage their responsiveness expectations. “There can be many reasons someone might not respond in an online communication,” said Dr. Kennedy Moore. Parents can help children wait for their friends’ answers by going through possible scenarios together (they are in class, their parents moved them away).
When conflict arises, parents should “do an autopsy on failed interactions,” said Dr. Jenny Radesky, a child and media expert at the University of Michigan’s CS Mott Children’s Hospital. An example of this type of debriefing was recently given by Dr. Radesky’s fifth grader who argued over a chat because someone removed someone from the group chat and someone else renamed him. “It was just that silly little drama, but we had to unpack it and approach it with a problem-solving mindset,” she said.
Encourage conscious media use
Dr. Radesky said her children’s school principal suggested that her son write down any digital avenues he wants to explore on sticky notes when the ideas come to him and allow time in his schedule to pamper them. The notes are effective, she said, “because it’s a visual cue to the child, like, ‘OK, here’s my list of things I’ll get into later, but for now I’ll just stay engaged.'”