A psychologist tackles one of today’s thorniest parenting problems.
The digital world often sneaks up on parents. Devices and media are multiplying and changing so fast, becoming nearly ubiquitous, that it can seem like family rules are always one step behind reality. Few parents want to offer unrestricted access to devices and media of all sorts, and even fewer want to ban them completely. Lender, in her debut book, offers a middle path. She wastes no time, setting up the central problem in just four pages: Electronic media can take over a family’s life. But, she says, her audience already knows that; they’re looking for a road to familial digital harmony. Lender quickly dives into her 10 key principles, including knowing today’s technology, setting expectations, being consistent and practicing what you preach. She is refreshingly specific about what constitute reasonable time limits and expectations for various ages and how to communicate those notions. Her most innovative piece of advice—creating a “positive digital floor plan”—is itself worth the price of admission: “The digital floor plan of your home, or the location of all the digital access points, can either greatly support your digital parenting plan or sabotage it,” she says. About a third of the book is dedicated to tools, such as worksheets, checklists, sample contracts to be agreed upon between parents and children, and the like. Some parents may balk at something as formal as a written contract or as rigid as a daily schedule, while others will find this kind of outside authority and its crystal-clear written communication to be just what their families need. Parents should expect the lists of social media sites, monitoring software and other online resources to go out of date fairly quickly—this is the modern world, after all—so independent research may be required. While Lender focuses on teens and tweens, it’s never too soon to start laying the groundwork for healthy relationships in the digital world; in fact, parents may find that, digitally speaking, their kids grow up even faster than they imagined.
A concise, frank, easy-to-implement and genuinely helpful guide to setting digital boundaries.