Most of what kids do online is scoffed at by adults, but this comes with a catch. Take watching other people play video games online. Despite most adults scratching their heads wondering how this could possibly be interesting, latest figures by Google show that in 2020, one hundred billion hours was spent watching gaming content on YouTube. You can travel to Neptune and back 475,000 times in that time.
But this is not a discussion about screentime. This is a discussion about not sticking our heads in the sand so that we can provide guidance that is meaningful when children are online, so that we can be good parents.
The implications of dismissing what they do as a waste of time results in little understanding by adults of what kids actually do online and why. We show minimal interest, yet we expect kids to listen to us when we advise them on what to do online. We have little understanding of their activities yet expect our advice to be accepted by them as meaningful and relevant.
There has always been the generational power play between adults and kids, however, that doesn’t mean this is the best way. With children spending so much of their time online for entertainment, ''knowing'' this side of their life is important on so many levels. It’s how we genuinely keep them safe. Without it we are making rules and decisions in the dark. It’s how we build a meaningful and trusting bond with them. We need to be interested and attentive to all aspects of their life, not just when they are offline. Kids can see right through us.
We might not want to watch gaming video or TikTok videos with them but at least we can take the time to understand their interest in them. We parent the whole child, not just the offline part. It’s a new year and time for a new attitude around how we guide our kids online.