Mentoring vs. monitoring to create healthy digital relationships with children

90% of the population owns a smartphone. Virtually every household has a PC connected to the Internet and 3 out of 4 families have a person who loves video games at home. Screens and technology surround our homes. They are starting to define how we organize ourselves in society. Too much screen time.

 

 

Some time ago we talked about how video games can be a great way to strengthen and improve ties with your children. However, screen time and how almost everything in the house relates to technology in one way or another is a major concern for parents today.

Typically, a quick Internet search yields several results on methodologies and best practices for regulating this screen time and setting healthy limits for our children. But is the solution really limiting and constraining?

 

Screen time effects on children

 

Studies to date often speak about the negative effects of technology abuse on our children. Effects that range from physical problems, such as difficulty sleeping, sedentarism and obesity, to those related to psychological and mental aspects.

 

 

However, these studies also state that the relationship between screen time and our children's physical, psychological and mental health is not so simple. Today you can't establish a direct relationship between screen time and the problems they present. What may lead you to think that perhaps it is not the screen time or the type of content that generates these problems, but that there are probably deeper causes and issues. We are not saying that digital content and screen time have no influence on these types of issues. It is a fact that the abuse of technological devices and tech consumption of the wrong content at the wrong age can "increase the volume" of these problems. 

 

Some benefits of screen time

 

Despite this, not everything is negative. Children in difficulty may find in video games or social networks an escape valve in which to express themselves or acquire emotional intelligence.

That is why our goal as parents should not be to limit access to technology but rather to mentor and accompany them in their relationship with technology. Rather than restricting, we need to understand why our children are using these devices, what they mean for them and what makes them attractive. 

 

 

Mentoring is knowing what makes Minecraft different from Fortnite. What it brings to their way of understanding the world of competitive versus cooperative play. It means understanding that what they consume can be part of their identity. That the YouTubers that follow,  speak to them and they see themselves reflected and they aspire to be like them same that you aspired to be like that actress, football player or pop star.

Knowing this can open up new ways of dialoguing with them and knowing what interests them, what worries them, knowing what we can advise them on, even learning new things from them…

Spending time with them can also lead to offering them alternatives that do not necessarily make use of the technology and that we can encourage. For example, if your child plays role-playing games (RPG) for hours, probably also enjoys reading fantasy novels, or if her plays sports-based games, probably she will also enjoy playing those sports with her friends in the yard.

 

Building positive relationships with technology from the beginning

 

It's not so much the screen time that counts, but what they do with that time. Watching a family movie together is not the same as using the tablet as a babysitter leaving your kids with YouTube (digital pacifier), there are even parents that feel some sense of pride of their young age kid being able to navigate Youtube at age 4, not good. We need to be turning screen time into family time, play with them, share with them technology from the beginning, don't make a screen a private closed world, make it a place for sharing and joy.

 

 

In short, your children's screen time doesn't necessarily have to be negative. With the right mentoring, it can bring a number of benefits to our children:

  • Can help learning, through games or content involving critical or creative thinking as may be the case of Melbits POD.
  • Can generate interest in traditional forms of play, for example by sparking interest in LEGO from Minecraft.
  • Can awaken our children's creativity by empowering them to generate content rather than just consume it.
  • They can be used to connect with other people and develop social skills, such as multiplayer games.

For our part, our mission must be informed in order to offer the most appropriate content for children and take advantage of the interest it generates in them to spend time with them and improve ties through a positive relationship with technology. If you want to receive more articles like this in your mailbox, subscribe to our newsletter and participate in the Melbits™ Maker Club.

 

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