I felt that, by focusing on the kids, the tools they love, and the facts (the research about the kid-media nexus), other parents might see what I’ve seen with my own kids: that their experiences in and with digital media are about 99% positive or neutral but, when not, can be worked through because mostly about people and parenting (I’d come to see that the context of those experiences in media was mostly home and school and the rest of offline life and sociality, not so much the media).
‘Myself, my family, our story’
Now, however, I think I’ve stumbled upon a missing piece to the equation – and it has even less to do with technology than my own antidote.
In a great commentary in The New York Times by parent and author Bruce Feiler about his own family and research, I read that “the last few years have seen stunning breakthroughs [from a number of fields] in knowledge about how to make families, along with other groups, work more effectively,” and it’s not just unplugging (see this).
“Develop[ing] a strong family narrative,” Feiler discovered – helping our kids know who and where they came from with those family-history stories and little rituals (some of the best are the hokiest) clans develop together – helping our children have a sense of family history, is one of the best things parents can do to help them develop self-esteem, resilience, identity, and all the other good things that sustain safety, mental health, and good relationships online and offline.
“The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned,” Feiler says psychologists have found. Think about the safety that ensures.