I recently had a conversation about this with family technology expert, Denise DeRosa, after we both participated on a panel for a virtual screening of the documentary, Like. As the founder of Cyber Sensible, Denise is an expert on helping families navigate within, what I fondly call, the “New Neighborhood,” the place where our offline world meets our online lives. During the pandemic, it almost feels as if screens are taking over our traditional neighborhoods.
Since we’re all in this together, I thought I’d share what Denise had to say when I asked the following two questions.
What are the two top things parents are concerned about the most when it comes to kids, technology, and the challenges of parenting in a pandemic?
I think the biggest issue is the lack of face-to-face social interactions and activities. All of us, parents, kids, teachers, grandparents are spending an enormous amount of time on our screens for school, work, socializing, entertainment and shopping. Parents are concerned about the mental health implications of their kids not being in school and the added amount of screen time. How will this time affect them long term? How can I encourage their resilience when I am struggling, too? What can I do to help us all feel less isolated while staying safe? Have all my limits on screen use gone out the window for good?
What are my kids missing out on because of screens? Are they really learning in this environment?
What’s your advice?
My top advice is empathy. Empathy for you, your child, your partner. These are not normal times, and even though we may have learned to deal with it better than at the beginning of the shutdowns, the extended duration of the pandemic has tested all of us.
Ease up on screen time restrictions – but understand there is no bar graph I can give you to simplify how long your child should be allowed in front of screens. There’s no easy answer for how much time you should allow. It is about how you apply your family values to the digital world.
So ask yourself some questions…
There is also much to consider – it’s a complicated equation – consider what your kids are doing and their enjoyment of it, are they playing with friends or using tech to isolate themselves? Why do parents feel the need to limit what kids are passionate about? If your child spends hours researching dinosaurs online and visiting virtual museum exhibits, should you restrict their passion because it is through a screen? If your kid is having fun with his friends and creating an exciting, collaborative, and creative environment on Roblox, does their time need to be limited?
Realistically, what are their options for meeting up and doing activities offline? If you are in a town where the weather prevents or restricts in-person, socially distanced activities, why not allow your kids to socialize without masks in a world they created together? I would encourage some virtual socializing with friends, whether via gaming, Snapchat, Facetime, Zoom, or Houseparty.
Check out all this info…
Denise’s thoughts on showing tech some gratitude.
Or watch her YouTube Channel.
More about Denise
Denise Lisi DeRosa is an expert in online safety, digital citizenship and a frequent speaker on parenting in the digital age. Denise founded Cyber Sensible in 2015 to provide Online Safety and Digital Wellness Workshops to families, parents, youth, and schools. She is an experienced media professional with a Master’s Degree in Communication, Culture and Technology from Georgetown University. Denise brings her background in traditional, new and social media, her education, and her personal experience raising tech-savvy kids to her work as she encourages her clients to manage their online lives toward success and well-being. Cyber Sensible Workshops focus on practical advice, step-by-step safety instruction, and finding digital balance in a tech heavy world. Follow Cyber Sensible on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and read the blog for her latest advice and thoughts on digital trends.