Parenting Digital Kids

Photo by Josh Rose

The Center for Parent-Youth Understanding is one of our favorite resources to recommend to parents when it comes to learning about youth culture trends and research. Recently they launched something new we are excited about: The Digital Kids Initiative. From their announcement:

One of the most sweeping and influential changes [in our culture] is the rapid expansion and growth of media technologies and outlets. The most recent research indicates that the average 8 to 18-year-old in America is engaging with media for 7 hours and 38 minutes a day. Much of their media engagement includes time spent engaging with others via social media technologies that didn’t even exist six years ago (Facebook, etc.). Today’s children and teens are a “wired” generation. They are constantly connected to their media and their media is constantly connected to them. Because they are at an impressionable and vulnerable age, children and teens are eager and willing to follow a media world that is attractive, pervasive, convincing, and compelling.


In the midst of this reality, kids are in desperate need of filters and tools for managing their digital worlds.  Parents, however, often find themselves at a loss for creating these filters and tools. As a parent myself, it’s hard to even know where to begin.

This is where a resource partner like CPYU is so helpful.  Along with other training and resources they are creating, CPYU has created a free “Family Digital Code of Conduct” as a downloadable resource.  Just reading through the list of online commitments they suggest is a reminder of the weight of the issue at hand.  Kids are making all kinds of decisions all day long when it comes to digital media, decisions that can have small or large consequences they aren’t expecting.  You may not feel comfortable asking your son or daughter to sign such a code.  But at the least, this is a great starting point for a conversation with kids who use cell phones and have internet access (of any kind).

Talking through the dangers alongside the benefits of the privilege of digital media use is quite possibly becoming as important as talking about sex with your kids (especially given how intertwined sexual issues are with today’s digital media use).  What other resources or ideas have you come across to spark these kinds of conversations?