Blogging our way through life!
What’s the best way to raise children in a digital age?

Today we’re joined by Dr Bex Lewis from Durham University, author of Raising Children in a Digital Age (Lion Hudson, 2014). She’s been featured on BBC Radio 2 ‘Steve Wright in the Afternoon’, and in The Daily Telegraph and is Director of social media consultancy ‘Digital Fingerprint’.

Dr Lewis writes:raising-children-in-a-digital-age

Like many children, Martha Payne’s NeverSeconds blog was started as a school project when she was 9 years old.

Unlike many children, on 4 February 2014, Martha’s blog gained its 10 millionth hit, and celebrated raising over £131,000 for Mary’s Meals. Seth Godin has explained how it doesn’t matter if only your cat reads your blog, so long as you’re enjoying it, and you’re seeking to improve what you do.

Martha would agree, and with her Mum and Dad, gave a series of tips on how her family has found ways to embed the digital into their lives.

These included time limits (they have a budget of one hour each per day); the computer remains in public spaces; Dad has the passwords to the blog and sees any comments first; facts should be questioned; no form filling without Mum or Dad, and she clicks to minimize the window if there’s anything she doesn’t like.

This story is one of many positive uses for children on the internet highlighted in my new book Raising Children in a Digital Age, where enthusiasm is balanced with a healthy respect for the power of the online environment (and includes a recommendation for the range of information, inspiration and support to be found on KidsBlogClub).

In 2008 Professor David Buckingham looked at a number of personal blog sites produced by children (both boys and girls). The sites were all public, but the content was notably geared to friends, with younger children typically focusing on local friends and family, whilst as children got older, girls in particular became more sarcastic, dropped childhood symbols, developed a more obvious sexuality, and became more critical of adults (especially teachers), while demonstrating an increasing awareness of the world beyond their own websites.

Children may need reminding that posting nasty comments on other people’s blogs, or blogging to damage the reputation or privacy of others (including sharing personal data) are bullying behaviours. Encourage them to demonstrate more positive support like this: in response to a friend’s suicide, a teenager set up a Twitter account giving compliments to others online.

The book emphasises that trust and communication are important, so it’s worth considering talking to your child before you read their blog, in case they think you are checking up on them behind their back – even better, ask them to demonstrate it to you. This also enables you to open a conversation about the kind of content they have on there, encouraging the good and minimizing the bad. You might want to help them think about what they write, and how, and how it might contribute to their future digital footprint, but don’t forget that it’s their personal space, in which they may simply want to “play”.


 What family rules to you have to help you manage digital life?



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3 Comments to “What’s the best way to raise children in a digital age?”

  1. […] having fun, and blogging about the things they are passionate about so great to be invited to write a piece for them, about my new book Raising Children in a Digital […]

  2. Samsara says:

    my parents help me in editing and posting. We read together couple of time .If everybody feels its OK to post then we hit “publish” button. I do not give my name or address to any webpage.

  3. […] having fun, and blogging about the things they are passionate about so great to be invited to write a piece for them, about my new book Raising Children in a Digital […]

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