As a parent, have you ever worried about your kids' screen time? Probably. As soon you try to set boundaries regarding their use of digital devices, children suddenly have some pressing request to try a popular game or send some urgent message to a friend. But did you know that this may be linked to your parenting style and that imposing too many restrictions on it may backfire?
Most parents have heard about horror stories of kids surfing on the internet, where they make social comparisons, spend sleepless nights learning conspiracy theories, and are at risk of encountering bullies and even more dangerous people. All of these can be terrible for their mental health. For these reasons, some parents delay giving their kids a smartphone or use all the parental controls available to restrict how their daughters and sons go online.
However, according to a new report published by the Wheatley Institution at Brigham Young University, anxious parents might be overlooking a critical factor: their own parenting style. Actually, the parenting style and the technology parents use appear to significantly impact kids' behavior in the digital world, which is not a big surprise. Previous research has shown that authoritative parenting - a responsive and supportive but firm method - is positively linked to children's self-esteem, resilience, and well-being.
The Brigham Young University study found that "warm, responsive, and engaged parenting" was highly beneficial for teenagers' mental health. The higher the level of parents' own social media use, the lower their level of warm parenting and the worse the depression level of their adolescents. Children whose parents imposed the toughest rules and restrictions suffered more from depression than their peers educated with less rigid methods. When parents overly control their kids' online activities, things can backfire - a difficult but important balance to find.
Picture: Child & smartphone (Wikimedia Commons)