Editors Note: The California Partners Project conducted a statewide listening tour with California mothers, parents, and caregivers to understand how they navigated the integration of technology and devices into most aspects of their children’s lives. These evolving toolkits and best practices are meant to meet parents where they are. Framing Conversations About Tech Use to Avoid Conflict is the first toolkit.
Conversations about tech use fuel family conflict. Carefully framing conversations is critical to supporting open, honest and productive conversations with your children as they grow.
Tips to frame conversations about tech use
Tip 1: Be curious.
Show your child that you are genuinely interested in how they spend their time online and how those activities make them feel; continue to do so across your child’s developmental stages. Play games, watch videos, and engage online with your child to deepen your understanding of their interest and desire to be online. Educator Shafia Zaloom suggests parents try to understand what it is that your child thinks is helpful or engaging about technology in a non-judgmental way.
Tip 2: Emphasize that the digital space is an extension of your personal space.
Shafia Zaloom suggests reminding your child or teen that most of us probably wouldn’t open our bedroom window to a stranger. Ask your child to consider how they share their time online with others and who they choose to engage with on the screen.
Tip 3: Try to be in favor of preferred activities instead of against others.
Parents might talk about the importance of sleep, authentic connection with others, positive body image among other priorities, and articulate how tech may or may not get in the way of those. Educator Shafia Zaloom notes this approach may be more successful than focusing only on the activities your family is against like excessive gaming, scrolling through social media, or other online activities.
Tip 4: Lead conversations about tech use with non-judgmental questions.
Shift conversations away from starting with “why” questions to using phrases such as “how,” “what,” “where,” and “I notice.” Some examples include “where are there other places in your life that you can connect with friends/family offline?” or “how do you feel after playing video games/posting selfies?”
As California mother’s, we are bringing these toolkits to you through a cross-collaborative campaign. San Francisco Bay Area Moms is proud to be working with Ventura County Mom Collective and Inland Empire Mom Collective. We too, want to “ensure our state’s media and technology industries are a force for good in child development” (part of California Partners Project Mission Statement). #TechTips4CaliMoms