Podcast Episode 231: The New (Digital) Childhood

Thanks so much for coming by to check out Episode 231 of The New Family Podcast, where we hear a positive take on the role of digital play in our children’s lives.

Parents do a lot of hand wringing about the amount of time our kids spend on devices. And there are some good reasons for that. Naturally, we want to make sure our kids aren’t leading sedentary lives and that they’re not just playing Fortnite or Minecraft, but getting a reasonably healthy amount of time outdoors. On top of this we have a tendency to worry that all these video games are turning our kids into antisocial automatons who won’t be able to interact well in the “real world.” But my guest for this episode has a very reassuring message about the digital lives of our children, and points out that, well, the digital world is in fact part of today’s real world.

Jordan Shapiro is writer and psychologist who explores the intersections of digital play and family life. He’s the author of an absolutely fascinating new book called The New Childhood: Raising Kids to Thrive in a Connected World. Jordan contextualizes the anxiety parents have about this new form of play and storytelling by placing it in the fascinating history of how grown-ups have always responded to new steps in the evolution of child’s play.

Here are some resources related to this episode.

The New Childhood: Raising Kids to Thrive in a Connected World

Jordan’s official website

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What Jordan wishes every parent could know about digital play

“What happens in the digital space could have some benefits provided that there’s mentorship and guidance. So what I would say to parents is we often imagine this as their space without us and I think parents really need to get involve. All of the things that we’re worried about, we have the power as grown ups to say ‘hey, we don’t like that’ or ‘hey, this is a better behavior than that. That’s what we do in every other space in their lives as we go. We take them to the playground and we say ‘don’t hit’, ‘don’t call people names’, ‘share’, ‘play nice together’, we do all of these interventions non-stop until we see that they learn how to behave in a way that match our values and for some reason we don’t do that in the digital space.”

Photo (top) by Alex Haney on Unsplash

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Brandie Weikle

About Brandie Weikle

Brandie is a long-time parenting editor, writer and spokesperson. Most recently editor-in-chief of Canadian Family magazine, Brandie has also been the parenting and relationships editor for the Toronto Star, founding editor of two Toronto Star websites, and an editor for Today's Parent. Brandie is a single mother of two in Toronto and a frequent television and radio guest on parenting topics. A former digital director at House & Home Media, she also consults on digital audience engagement. Contact her here. View all posts by