How to Parent In a Digital World

How to Parent In a Digital World

We both grew up playing outdoors, exploring and using our imaginations. Coming in with cuts and bruises on our knees after jumping from trees, as well as making up games that we would then spend hours playing with friends. As time has gone on, and generations have changed and evolved, so has children’s play time activities and what consumes their everyday thoughts and mannerisms. 

This is something we’ve both realised since becoming mothers and even before that. With the steep rise of technology over the years and all the various ways to access the booming digital world, whether it be through mobile phones, gaming, television, tablets or computers, it’s become such a massive part of everyday life, and that includes our children’s lives, too. That’s why we think it’s important to make sure your family has balance and routine when it comes to things like screen time vs. playing outside and behaving well when we do go online. So, when we came across Vodafone’s Digital Family Pledge tool all about how to balance each families digital life, as well as keep children happy and safe online, we were instantly drawn to it and keen to get involved straight.

When we were both pregnant, we agreed we were upset about the lack of outdoor play and face to face conversations happening amongst kids today and were determined to try and monitor and postpone device use for as long as possible. 

One of us (Sophie) was slightly more laid back at the prospect of our children using technology, deciding it was inescapable, but the other (Holly) was a little less lenient. But the tool helped us both accept the reality of the digital world we live in, to come to terms with it, and help us move forward with a sensible plan of action that makes us feel in control.

After we had Zack and Delilah and they got over a year old, it was pretty clear that allowing them to use an iPad or our phones during restaurant visits with friends was something we couldn’t avoid anymore. There was only so much play-doh and colouring and sticker book distraction we could use before the whole restaurant would be staring at our table in disbelief as our children screamed and threw food across the floors. It did make us wonder how on earth our parents managed to take us out at toddlers! It was then that we succumbed to using devices. Not only did this calm them down, it also allowed us to enjoy a meal out or sip on a still hot coffee. Luckily, it’s now easy to manage and monitor what our children watch online and the games they play. We only download particular apps that educate and teach them key skills, such as counting, the alphabet and even cooking, and we make sure they only use them a certain amount of times a day (and when necessary)!

But what the tool gave us was a great conversation starter and the platform we needed to make sure that everyone in our individual families was on the same page when it came to how to discipline the children with device use and screen time. Being on the same page as parents is very important because you don’t want to confuse your kids by dishing out separate rules. The pledge gave us the space and time to sit down with our husbands and really think about what to do with our toddlers now, but also for when Zack and Delilah are older and inevitably getting into social media and gaming. It even covers the topic of being kind online, and how to tackle and recognise online bullying. What more could you ask for?

Let us know if you check it out and what rules you came up – you can also share these on social or print them and pop them on the fridge like us, so we don’t forget what we’ve promised. 


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