shielded is the title of a new book edited by Penguin Random House that tries to instruct fathers and mothers so that their children make a more responsible use of technology and screens.
Mary Joseph Abbot, who has coordinated the contents of the book, has offered us an interview in which he explains his objectives. She has also told us the keys to success when it comes to educating a child who is born in such a digital environment, as well as the possible risks of misusing technology.
– What is the main advice you would give to parents so that their children can make responsible use of technology?
Learn more about how to educate your children in the digital world! Your children have not chosen to be born now, but you do have the responsibility to accompany them. It is difficult because there is no previous family tradition to appeal to in case of doubt: How did my father make him not use the mobile so much; or how my grandmother managed family meals with so many screens?
That is why it is more necessary than ever for parents to be trained in these issues, and this book wants to make this task easier for them, bringing together everything we have learned in 5 years since the birth of the platform Coated. I am convinced that if we want children to be able to make responsible use of technology, this requires training parents and educators on how to educate their children in a world full of screens.
In addition, the beginning of the course is a good time to stop and think about how I would like the relationship we have with screens to be in my family, in my house. It may be that with confinement this issue got out of hand, and you have no longer resumed the rules on screens at home, but it is never too late to put a little order.
education as a career
– What have been your most reliable sources to be able to write this manual?
The book is the result of more than 5 years of experience listening to thousands of fathers and mothers; working with experts in health, education and technology; and researching, together with GAD3, the impact of screens on family life.
In other words, the manual is based on the diagnosis of the situation (analyzing the behavior of parents and children who are representative of Spanish society, and the most frequently asked questions by parents); to which we have added the recommendations of the experts with whom we have worked.
«The beginning of the course is a good time to stop and think about how I would like the relationship we have with screens to be in my family, in my house»
– Do you think that the freedom of the little ones can be limited if these guidelines are not applied correctly?
I believe that education is a long-distance race, where the results are not seen immediately. Technology and the digital environment can be a great opportunity to educate children. Also in many aspects that at first glance have nothing to do with the screens but with educating the character of the youngest and that will lead them to be happier and freer today and in the future.
Technology offers us many wonderful possibilities and also some educational challenges. I think that the 3 great challenges of digital education today have to do with ‘educate in the triple A’: reinforce Self-esteem, that they know how to learn to love themselves as they are without depending excessively on external evaluations; manage Boredom in the generation of ‘everything now’ and train Attention, promoting activities that require constant effort in the medium term.
All this is much more developed in the book, and I think that these 3 coordinates can serve as an axis to educate today’s minors.
screened: an opportunity to educate
– What are the main objectives of this book?
The main objective of the book is to help parents to stop looking at screens with resignation or panic, and to begin to see them as an opportunity to educate, offering them tools, guidelines and advice that they can apply today.
Another of the great objectives of this book is to raise awareness that the foundations of digital education begin when your child is born. There is a part of the book that is dedicated to breaking down the educational challenges by age, from 0-6 years old, to the age of majority. We believe that it can be very useful and practical for parents. We cannot pretend that when they are in Infantile the screen is ‘the digital babysitter’ throughout the day; and when they grow up, use them in a balanced way.
Finally, we collect the 12 most frequently asked questions from fathers and mothers who have asked us during these 5 years since Emtallados was born. It is impressive because in the end the doubts of the parents are always the same. And what at first glance seems impossible to solve… can be improved by changing some habits.
– What do you think of parental control services?
Parental control systems can be useful at an early age, to block access to some content, etc. But using them as the only measure will only make them a patch. Much more important than installing technological software on devices is education and support for children in the digital environment.
Also, when it comes to adolescence, it is very likely that your children will find a way to bypass parental controls. On one occasion a father told us that he was happy because he had installed a parental control on his teenage sons mobile, which turned off all the devices at a certain time at night. From the friends of his children we learned that they had changed the time zone of the devices, so they set the time from another place on the planet and consequently the theoretical control became ineffective.
In short, the goal of education is to get your children to choose the good, regardless of whether or not you are in front of them. For this reason, parental control services can be a good preventive measure for the little ones, but totally insufficient when they grow up.