Parenting for a Digital Future

Being a parent has always been a mixture of great challenges and great rewards. For the current generation of children and parents a new challenge – and potential reward – has come very much to the fore in recent years: How to be a parent in the Digital Age.

The vexed question of screen time is big news. Kirstie Allsopp, presenter and property guru, found herself in a social media storm last summer by smashing her sons ipads when they flouted her screen time rules. It is a question that plays itself out in countless bedrooms and living rooms of homes throughout the country, not only those of celebrities: how much time in front of a screen is right/best/healthy for our children?

The question has had an interesting sidelight shone on it by recent reports that the people in Silicon Valley responsible for developing the very products that keep our children glued to the screen do not want this for their own children. The children of the digital titans are growing up screen free. What does this say about the challenge/reward or promise/threat dynamic for our own parenting choices?

It is an area that keynote speaker Sonia Livingstone OBE FBA will address at the Home Renaissance Foundation’s Experts’ Meeting in London next month.  Sonia Livingstone OBE FBA is a professor of Social Psychology and former head of the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science and has dedicated much of her research to children, media and the Internet. Introducing her recent work Parenting for a Digital Future Professor Livingstone sets out the issues at stake: “The pace of recent advances in digital media leaves many parents and carers increasingly anxious about what these changes will mean for their children, now and in the future. How do parents and carers approach the task of bringing up their children in the digital age? What risks or opportunities do they see opening up for them and their children?”

Risks and opportunities for our children and the whole of society as they grow up and take their place in a complex world. Nothing can be more important than asking the questions and starting to frame some answers.