Digital Parenting: Protecting Kids Without Surveillance

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Ever wondered how to navigate the digital world with your kids without suffocating their freedom? Join us as we delve into ‘Digital Parenting Unveiled’ with Devorah Heitner for expert insights.

Digital Parenting Demystified: A Conversation with Devorah Heitner

In a recent interview with CNN, Devorah Heitner, the author of “Growing Up in Public: Coming of Age in a Digital World,” provided insights on how parents and caregivers can navigate the complex world of social media with their children.

She emphasized that protecting children’s self-esteem and safety online doesn’t require constant surveillance but rather a mentoring approach. Here are the key takeaways from her conversation, presented in the third person:

Devorah Heitner, an expert in digital parenting, highlighted the dual nature of social media, where kids can be hyper-connected yet lonely. She advised parents to help their children understand the distinction between real friendships and mere online followers, emphasizing the importance of quality over quantity in relationships.

Heitner debunked the notion of a specific “right” age for a child to start using social media. Instead, she suggested that parents ask their children questions such as who they are connecting with, how it makes them feel, and how they can handle conflicts or negative experiences online. She also recommended ensuring that children are proficient in texting and can manage group text drama before introducing them to social media platforms, adding one app at a time thoughtfully.

Addressing the challenge of children spending excessive time on apps that leave them feeling excluded or inferior, Heitner explained that kids often feel compelled to be where their friends are.

She advised parents to help their children strike a balance between online interactions and in-person socializing, as well as engaging in restorative activities. Encouraging involvement in household chores and volunteer work can help children focus on meaningful pursuits beyond follower counts.

Based on her conversations with kids for her book, Heitner emphasized that children often feel excessively monitored by their parents. She cited concerns about being taken out of context or “canceled,” and how grading apps can lead to strife at home. Heitner stressed that parents should avoid over-checking grading apps and instead foster trust and open communication with their children.

Regarding the question of whether parents should pay attention to their children’s online conversations, Heitner cautioned against excessive surveillance. She underscored the importance of offering support and mentorship without invading a child’s privacy.

She encouraged parents to be the person their child can confide in rather than someone constantly tracking their online activities.

In conclusion, Heitner emphasized the need to retain humanity in the midst of the digital noise, reminding children that there are real people on the other end of their online interactions.

She also highlighted that many kids are adept at curating their online experiences in healthy and enjoyable ways, indicating that they may be more responsible online than adults often assume.

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