Digital media workshops bringing parents and teens together

Division and conflict between parents and teens can often be caused by differing views on the role digital media plays in our lives.

Working to bridge the generation gap, Dr Catherine Page Jeffery, Professor Kerry McCallum and Sue Atkinson are hosting eight workshops in November and December to promote mutual understanding between both parties.

The three women are researchers at the News and Media Research Center at the University of Canberra and created the Safe Online Together project, aiming to generate anonymous data to inform future research and initiatives on the subject.

Dr Page Jeffery said the workshops are accessible, interactive, aimed at parents of children aged 10 to 15, and designed to inspire appreciation for everyone’s concerns and perspectives.

“Parents don’t understand how important media is to kids, they just see it glued to their phone and see it as a waste of time or a dumbing down. They don’t understand the variety of things they do on their device and all the benefits of staying connected, supported, informed and learning new things,” she said.

“So we try to do these workshops to give young people the opportunity to tell their parents what they value in the media so that they can understand, but also teach the children why their parents are worried.”

A mother of two daughters, ages seven and 10, Dr. Page Jeffery recently began to experience challenges with digital media use and parenting with her eldest.

“I’m actually just starting to experience it firsthand and I’m able to understand with parents what they’re talking about, especially as my kids are growing up but also coming out of lockdown,” she said. declared.

“These issues have become more salient because during lockdown we relied on technology for so many things like maintaining continuity with pre-pandemic life. My daughter has to self-isolate for two weeks right now, because she’s a close contact from school, so she’s been on Messenger Kids for an hour, and I think it’s important to have that connection with friends .

Dr Page Jeffery said the issues will change with the age of the child and that talking to teenagers is particularly more difficult, especially when they are on the cusp of adulthood, as they are entitled to some degree of privacy.

“Talking directly to parents, I’ve found that trying to impose restrictions or rules is a pretty big source of conflict with families with a lot of parents saying it’s too difficult and creates too much They tend to say they’re tired of having fights and just have to trust them, and part of that is due to the lack of understanding between parents and children about the media,” he said. she declared.

“Giving safety advice to teens to minimize risk is different from trying to manage device use, which would typically result in arguments, teens pushing back, or finding ways around rules or restrictions.”

The Safe Online Together workshops are held from November 23 to December 5, are free of charge and were made possible by a grant from the eSafety Commission in 2020.

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