Tips for Parenting in the Digital Age

Michelle LipkinThe Calhoun community welcomed guest speaker Michelle Ciulla Lipkin, executive director of the National Association for Media Literacy Education, who led a workshop for Lower School parents on the topic of parenting in the digital age.

Michelle spoke to the challenges that many parents face today: navigating the ever-evolving world of technology with your children, teaching them to use media in a responsible manner, and protecting them from any potential negative side effects. She assured us that it’s completely normal that these challenges can seem overwhelming. “Change has happened rapidly. We’re the last people who can remember life before the internet,” said Michelle. “There’s also a multi-billion-dollar advertising industry that we’re up against, and we’re expected as parents to counter the messages that children are exposed to – no wonder this feels hard!”

So what tools can we use for successful parenting in the digital age? Michelle outlined a model she calls “The Six E’s.”

1. Exemplify
Be a role model in tech. Kids watch us more than they listen to us, and are learning from what we do. It’s time to ask ourselves, do we have a screen time problem?

Students working with tech2. Explain
Outline expectations, and set guidelines and rules for technology use in the home. Most of all, establish in your home that technology is a big enough deal to talk about often.

3. Engage
Have conversations with your kids about media that have nothing to do with the rules. Does your child love video games? Find out why, and play with them.

4. Empathize
Keep in mind that for the first time in history, kids are growing up in a public space thanks to social media – while we were able to make mistakes in private as an adolescent. Be prepared to have open conversations about how hard this can be.

5. Educate
There’s an important difference between preparing and protecting, teaching and telling. Teach kids to ask questions, and learn to have media literacy conversations at home.

6. Empower
Encourage your child’s own media creation, by telling them about new apps or websites, signing them up for classes, and teaching them new skills.

Most of all, Michelle reminded us, “Kids might be better at tech, but we’re better at being human beings. Their tech savvy doesn’t eliminate our life experience – be confident in the wisdom you have to impart.”