- Lamia Bagasrawala, School Psychologist, Shishuvan School
Parents at Shishuvan are one of the most significant stakeholders in the school. They are as open to learning and exploring as they are to contributing to the growth of their children and the school. And this is what makes facilitating parent workshops enjoyable and stimulating! It’s been almost a year since I’ve been conducting Parent Workshops for parents of students in Middle School and High School and the experience has always been heart-warming. The refreshing interactions and discussions each time as well as the eagerness of the parents to learn more has always left me delighted.
This semester I decided to cover the topic of Digital Parenting for parents of students in the Middle School. As part of Personality Development (P.D.) classes, some of the topics of cyber safety were covered with the students. Additionally an introductory workshop on Cyber Safety had been conducted with the parents in the first semester. The introductory session covered up the technical chunks of parental controls, appropriate use of the Internet and the problems arising out of the misuse of the Internet. This seemed like a lot of information and one of my colleagues happened to question the need for my follow-up workshop as most of it was covered in the introductory session. This is what got me thinking about Digital Parenting through a whole new perspective. I realized that Digital Parenting was no different than Parenting itself. What makes it seem fascinating and slightly intimidating is a) it is unknown territory – since this is practically the first generation to be growing up in the digital age in India and b) we as parents and adults are also active users of the digital media too – so it’s not just kids. And this is how I shifted lens from monitoring and managing online behaviour of children – which I still consider essential and a pre-requisite for cyber safety – to modelling the appropriate behaviour in the family.
The workshop conducted with parents of students in Std. 5, 6, 7 respectively on separate days in January 2016, gave the parents a glimpse of what appropriate norm setting and behaviour management while using digital devices looks like. Parents were introduced to strategies and provided practical examples for modelling the appropriate behaviour. All this was of course achieved in the true Shishuvan style of group work and discussion based activities. Parents got into groups and enlisted points for some everyday behaviours and phenomena like – things they keep in mind while going on a detox diet, things to remember while creating a business agreement, verbal and non-verbal behaviours while engaging in real time interactions and code of conduct on the dinner table. These insights were shared and used as the starting point to explore the similarities and connections between parenting and digital parenting. Associations between day-to-day norm setting and digital management were created through this activity. It was interesting how this also helped create a base to explore individual differences. The concept of NETIQUETTE, Digital Detox and Contracting were discussed and parents were also left with examples for each as well as a sample of the contract. Parents also put down one clause that they would like to include in their digital contracts. The emphasis throughout the session was on the need for parents and families to demonstrate appropriate media use behaviours consistently in order to motivate and elicit similar behaviours from the children.
It was indeed a pleasure conducting these workshops and as always, I returned with a lot more learning and lot more food for thought. To all those adults desiring to bring about a change in their children’s behaviours, let’s reflect on what we do. It may not always be the only way to go ahead, but it can serve as a great starting point. Children See, Children do! And this video sums it up really well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7d4gmdl3zNQ . Here’s to creating a safer and healthier generation of digital children!