Raising the Digital Natives
Screen time used to have another name – TV time, before tablets and mobile phones became a thing. As millennials become parents, people who grew up with TV being the only screen in their household find themselves struggling – more than their parents’ generation, to figure out “the right way” to let their kids access media content.
It’s common nowadays to see mobile devices as the ersatz childminder, in public transport, shopping malls, airports – nothing else can keep the kids engaged and quiet as long and as effectively. And when the kids get older, to know the cool stuff online that everyone is talking about, or to have your own social media presence, is the new age peer pressure barometer.
Parents experience relief with internet and screen time, but also guilt, which is sometimes seen in the under-reported screen time in claims-based research (“My kids spend xx minutes on average watching TV/using the mobile phone/tablet per day”), compared with actual tracked data. We need it, but we wish we didn’t, and we are not comfortable admitting it.
And with toddlers in prams with a lollipop in one hand and a mobile phone in the other, here comes the advent of the true digital natives – while millennials are diligently dragging app icons across the screens to move them, their toddler kids/nephews/nieces already know how to drag icons onto the dock, swipe through screens and drop them back again.
The “passive entertainment” criticism has existed since the TV-only era, and now on top of that, the very often unsupervised screen time has brought new worries. What are the kids watching? Who can see what they’re posting? Who are they talking to?
Parental control has its limits, and with the massive amount of content out there making the world more and more reliant on algorithms to censor and filter contents, ill-intended content such as Elsagate inevitably slips through, becoming a 21st-century parents’ nightmare.