It’s official: For UK teens (and from everything we’ve seen for North American teens as well), the television screen is no longer the “first screen”. For teens, the first screen is now a phone, computer or tablet.
UK research outfit Childwise completed its latest annual survey, the Childwise Monitor Report 2016, in which they sampled more than 2,000 kids aged 5 – 16 and asked about their media habits.
Overall, the most headline-worthy detail is that among all kids aged 5 – 16, over the last year TV time remained constant at 2.1 hours per day, while online time grew 50% to 3 hours per day. Among the 15 – 16 year old cohort, online time is up to 4.8 hours per day (we’ve seen higher numbers but the direction is clear).
In terms of TV time, scheduled programming is quickly losing significance. Only 25% of 15 – 16 year olds watch TV shows as they are broadcast, and 60% of kids overall watch TV via phone, tablet or laptop.
Gone are the days when parents needed only to be within earshot of the family TV to know what kids are watching. When you think about it, monitoring TV and movie consumption is now similar to monitoring web activity. It can happen anywhere inside or out of the house, and on any device. And, if your kids are anything like mine, they are usually wearing headphones.
Assuming that you can’t perfectly monitor your child or teen’s consumption of online or TV media, teaching your kids to be their own monitor is more important than ever. The difficulty is that as soon as a child has unrestricted phone or tablet access, the idea of them consuming media exclusively in a central location of the home goes out the window. A few tips to get started, not matter how old your kids are:
Start early – Even when your child is “too young” for adult content, start talking about it in broad strokes so she’ll know what to avoid, and why.
Explain the risks, and why – Go ahead and say why you think some things are inappropriate. If you think that pornography leads to unhealthy attitudes about sex, talk about that. If you think violence and gore can make people less compassionate, your child should know that. Don’t forget to talk about sexting.
Ask your child what he is interested in online – If your child’s online interests are different from what he’s into in real life, he may be going astray.
Check that phone frequently – You child or teen’s smartphone is the most personal of all electronic devices – a window into her digital soul. You should know what’s on it – which apps especially, and how she uses them. You don’t need to monitor every keystroke, but if you know in general what she’s doing online, you can have more effective conversations about what not to do.
The shift to digital requires a shift in parenting strategies, and we fear that many parents are behind in making that shift. If you need help, for a limited time the ThirdParent audit is FREE (normally $49). You can cancel at any time. Sign up today!
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