E-book review: Parenting in a Digital World: Stop fighting, start connecting

Parenting in a Digital World: Stop fighting, start connecting: The E-book is written by Martine Oglethorpe who blogs at The Modern Parent. Martine has a background in secondary education and is a qualified youth and family Counsellor. She is able to combine her professional work and research with the personal experience of raising 5 boys to give parents understanding and realistic strategies to help them face the challenges of the modern world.

I often say to other parents that I think managing technology with kids is one of the biggest challenges I face personally as a parent. I really enjoyed reading Parenting in a Digital World: Stop fighting, start connecting. It doesn’t lecture you or set strict rules about what you should be doing, but peels the layers back to the fundamentals of parenting:

  • Supporting and protecting your child
  • Building and maintaining a positive relationship with your child base

challenges of a digital worlds

The ebook addresses many of the concerns that I know most parents have, but as I did with my review of Yes, Your Teen is Crazy!: Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind I will share three key learnings for me from the e-book:

What about using technology as a punishment?

When it comes to both little kids and bigger kids, the focus needs to be on the behaviour we want changed, rather than the technology as something that is ‘causing’ that behaviour.

For too long I have focused on technology and taking said technology away if it is an issue. To be honest this works to an extent with younger kids, but it doesn’t with teenagers. They have so many devices and are always one step ahead on how to get online, it can become quite futile. This was a great reminder to me to focus on discussing the behaviour not the technology and working on ways to help them manage their own behaviour.

Homework versus play

This all comes back to having a positive connection with your child and with their school. No, it doesn’t mean sitting by their side as they tap away at their keyboard to monitor their assignments. It may mean checking in with them every now and then about what they have going on with homework. It may mean checking in with teachers every now and then to ensure your child is on track.

With two of the five kids having their own iPads for school it is so hard to tell whether they are working, gaming or socialising. They know tricks to close apps and swaps screens etc so you will never see evidence of it. I am coming to the slow realisation that we can create boundaries together but in the end, it is up to the kids to stick to them. The results will be seen in their school performance and that then needs to have a separate discussion. Where possible I am trying to work on assisting the teenagers to create positive homework and study habits as opposed to regulating their access to technology. I still have some way to go on this one, but working with the kids’ school certainly helps.

Change your mindset

When we make a conscious decision to look at things from our child’s perspective, we are letting them know we ‘get it’. We ‘get’ why they want to play video games or hang out on social networks. We have rules about it, but we still get it and we can work together. We are therefore helping to steer their behaviour rather than dictate it.

It can be too easy for technology to become an issue which we fight over and I have to admit to playing a large part in this with a negative mindset towards the kids technology use in general. I am working on this and finding points of connection is key. For my eldest two boys and I, it is music. We will share new finds on Soundcloud or Pandora. I talk with them about the difference in how they communicate with their friends via social media compared to what we did when I was a teenager. But I still do let the constant technology use frustrate me. I am now getting better at keeping my frustration to myself and trying different angles to discuss technology in a calm and considered manner.

Parenting in a Digital World: Stop fighting, start connecting is not just for parents with older kids. I think it is an excellent guide if you are just starting to enter this territory. It has wisdom that can prevent you from making some of the mistakes I have made and helps you work out what you should be doing in your family.

Is technology an issue that causes fights in your household?