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What We Want as Parents

January 11, 2010

This blog is devoted to reviewing research and writings about how parenting is changing in a digital age, and what we as parents are doing about it. I’ve been writing about this topic for the past ten years, and some of my previous writings are available at the University of Denver’s Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media, which is the research center I direct.

Here’s what I’ve found from my interviews with parents. What we want is fairly simple: we want digital and mobile media to help rather than hurt our parenting efforts. We don’t want media to take up too much time and money, and of course we don’t want media that compromise the safety and interests of our young people.

Lately, I’ve been surprised by the difference between the concerns raised by the news media and those raised by parents. While there are lots of media reports about Internet predators, cyberbullying, and most recently sexting, what parents want to know is: How can I make sure that my kid isn’t going to totally disengage from the family when it seems that if given the choice, he’d rather text and talk with friends all the time? How can I convince my kid that some things are dangerous, like texting while driving or putting too much information online? And perhaps most importantly, how can I help my kids to learn that it’s okay, and in fact it’s good, to unplug once in a while?

I believe that we’re all better parents when we’re part of a community.  We need friends and colleagues who can support us in our efforts to address our family’s ever-changing needs.  The point of this blog, then, is to help us build a community of parents who want to raise young people who are responsible, compassionate, and capable, and who want to enlist digital and mobile media in our efforts to do this. Please feel free to leave a comment or sign up for my tweets. I’d love to hear your insights. We all need suggestions on how to navigate the new situations in which we find ourselves as the digital and mobile media change our lives and the world around us!