The new Vodafone Digital Parenting Guide is out now, and it's totally free. To celebrate, we held a talk on the future of keeping tech in the family...
The online world is always changing, and the role of technology in the family is always growing, which is why we’ve published the latest version of Vodafone’s Digital Parenting Guide. The Digital Parenting Guide is a free magazine that sets out to dispel the myths, explain the jargon and provide tips for parents and guardians on how to help kids and teenagers get the most out of the web while staying safe.
Vodafone Digital Parenting guide
Time to scrub up on your online knowledge! Here’s everything you need to know to help your kids get the best out of tech in the safest way possible.
Click here to read or download the online guide.
We’ve made the latest edition available for schools to request copies of and families can also pick up copies from their local Vodafone store right now or as a PDF download here. But our focus on families doesn’t stop there. Because the new Digital Parenting Guide is now available, it’s a great time to look at the state of the UK as a whole when it comes to digital parenting.
To do just that, we joined up with the Guardian to host a roundtable with some of the digital world’s foremost experts on parenting, families and internet safety some of who had contributed to the new Guide. During the two hour talk, the experts discussed some of the challenges facing parents in the digital world today, and we at Vodafone Social were there to listen in.
Vodafone’s Consumer Director Cindy Rose kicked things off, explaining why she believes this topic is so important, and why it’s one that’s close to her heart:
“I have two ‘digital natives’ at home,” says Cindy. “One is a ten year-old boy who is taking java coding courses this summer, and an eight year old girl who would rather go without food and water than give up her iPad for the day.”
“Vodafone has a long heritage of having families at the heart of its business…”
“On top of that, Vodafone has a long heritage of having families at the heart of its business, and mobile technology is an increasingly integral part of modern family life. With that in mind, we’re here today to talk about the Digital Parenting Guide and the themes it address. I think it’s a tremendous publication, and we’ve made a million copies of it available to families and schools for free since it was first published.”
“I’m proud of it because it’s not a magazine with lots of advertising in it; it’s a serious resource for parents and guardians with practical guidance. It’s packed full of expert advice and tips, and relevant articles.
“This roundtable is designed to let us talk about some of the exciting research that Vodafone has commissioned,” Cindy says, “so that we can understand more about the role of technology in modern family life. For instance, 75 per cent of young people and 71 per cent of parents believe that family relationships have been enriched as a result of mobile technology.
“I think that’s pretty spectacular, and it’s something that Vodafone intends to build upon in the year ahead.” And with that surprising stat, we were off…
Following Cindy’s introduction, Louise Tickle from the Guardian jumped in with another startling fact: “One of the things that I took away from the research,” she says, “is that while nine in ten kids feel that technology gives them more opportunities than their parents, 1 in 2 actually feel sorry for their parents because of the ‘dull lives’ we had before smartphones.”
David Miles, Director of the Family Online Safety Institute added to that by suggesting that the age split between children and their parents is apparent in the different attitudes towards how we use technology:
“The older generations are used to being private in their conversations…”
“Danah Boyd’s book ‘It’s Complicated’ says that the older generations are used to being private in their conversations – if they want something to be public there’s a lot of effort needed in making them so.
“Children are now living in a world where that’s the opposite: everything is public by default, and they have to put a lot of effort into making things private. Boyd points to that and says that the older generation can look at things the wrong way now, and that’s a relationship challenge that we have to face up to.”
Claire Lilley of the NSPCC agreed, suggesting that one of the biggest problems in children’s lives now is how parents allow or restrict access to the internet. “At the NSPCC, one of the biggest topics we always have is family issues, but we’ve seen a 65 per cent increase last year of children contacting us about things to do with the online environment. We now need to do analysis on where those two areas intertwine – for instance, we have a huge amount of calls from children whose parents won’t let them on certain social networks.”
Education = enrichment
There’s certainly a lot for parents to be mindful of, but the panel was unanimous in saying that mobile technology can definitely enrich family life:
“We spent two weeks with one of the families that feature heavily in the Digital Parenting Guide’s photography,” says Cindy. “We followed what they did and found out how mobile technology featured in their family life. There’s a 16 year old boy in the family who’s not as communicative as his mum might like. He can’t tell her he loves her to her face, but he texts her that. That’s amazing.”
“Technology can also sustain a relationship that would otherwise be very hard to manage…”
“Technology can also sustain a relationship that would otherwise be very hard to manage,” Louise adds. “When people are apart you can now be much more intimately in contact with them – in a variety of different ways – far more easily than ever before. Technology like video calling stops that real damage to a child that can come from being apart from their parents.”
In the end, as Sion Humphreys from the National Association of Head Teachers suggests, it all comes down to taking the right approach – and not blaming the web for any family issues:
“Don’t blame technology,” he says, “just look to manage behaviours. It’s the same way as you don’t blame a car; you blame a drunk driver.”
And that’s why informative tools like the Vodafone Digital Parenting Guide are so important:
“You have to do the education first,” David Miles says, “and then mobile phones will become tools, rather than issues.”
To read more of what our panel of experts had to say, check out the Guardian’s coverage of the Vodafone Digital Parenting roundtable talk.