How to Raise Kids Who Aren’t Assholes: Science-Based Strategies for Better Parenting from Tots to Teens by Melinda Wenner Moyer

10. “Where’s the iPad?” Managing Screens, Games, and Social Media

  • Although most educators think that screen time should be limited by parents, there is no solid research that we can rely on. Screen time data is mostly self-reported, people are not good at estimating their screen time, and randomized trials are unethical. Some correlations exist, but causes cannot be determined. For example, kids who play violent video games are somewhat more likely to be violent. This could simply be due to the fact that kids with violent tendencies are attracted to these games.
  • All screen time is not the same. It can vary from passively whating a video, to using social media, to engaging in creative activities and searching for information. Above all, parents need to be mentors when it comes to the responsible use of screens. Try to engage in media with your kids when possible. If you are glued to your phone a lot you are setting a bad example. No screens of any kind at meals or in kid’s bedrooms are good ideas. Melinda and I both recommend Ana Kamentez’s book The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life summarized here.

11. “When I Touch It, It Gets Bigger!” Talking to Kids About Sex and Phorography

  • (Full disclosure: I read this chapter first.) The big takeaway here is talk to your kids early about sex, porn, and sexting. Girls should know that they too, should enjoy sex. Teach them how to masturbate and tell them to let the boys know how to please them. Talk to your boys about loving emotions, so they don’t become that guy who just wants to score. Consent should be the focus of your conversations. Kids are likely to encounter porn so be sure to include in your conversations. Let them know that some porn is over-the-top entertainment for people with niche interests, and some are just garden-variety sex between consenting adults.
  • Sexing is a bad idea. For kids, it’s essentially child porn, which is illegal. Melinda recommends both of Peggy Orenstein’s books which are summarized here. Girls and Sex and Boys and Sex.

Epilogue

  • The big takeaway is to show compassion and connect with your kids. With ample love, compassion, and guidance, they will grow up to make the world a more beautiful and loving place, thanks in part to your efforts. Thank you, Melinda.

Melinda Wennerr Moyer

  • Melinda is an award-winning contributing editor at Scientific American a regular contributor to the New York Times, and a former Slate parenting columnist. This is her first book. Check out her website at MelindaWennerMoyer.com. Her Facebook page is MelindaWennerMoyer. She is @Lindy2350 on Twitter and Melindawmoyer on Instagram.
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