Screens. Social Media. Self regulation.

Read our articles for research-based guidance and insight.

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Sonia Livingstone

Ms. Livingstone is a UK researcher whom we recommend for her investigations into the opportunities and risks of digital media use in everyday lives of children and young people. Read and subscribe to the LSE Blog.

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Grandparenting and Media

Children discover media early, about the time they become aware of colours and motion. When they start to explore with their hands, they thrill to the sounds and colours they can evoke from electronic tables, toys, cribs, screens, etc. They learn early-on the relationship between their hands and the mediated world. For them a squealing squeeze toy or a chiming button is the same cause-and-effect interaction.

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Voice Assistants

Hey Google, who are Siri, Cortana and Alexa?

Children really like voice assistants for at least two reasons: the interface is easy, requiring only voice commands instead of the challenges of the keyboard or tablet; and they get instant results, giving them a feeling of empowerment. Toddlers love to request a favourite song that plays almost immediately. Voice assistants are also our first robots, so they are helping children prepare for working with robots in their future personal and professional lives.

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Families and TV

While pundits predict the end of TV, it is still a major family activity. Older broadcast TV (CBC, CTV, Global) is controlled by a different set of policies than cable and OTT TV (Netflix, Prime, HBO). That means that parents might allow children freedom to watch broadcast TV confidently knowing that content is vetted by censors. When it comes to OTT TV, however, content may contain language, actions and events that many parents rightfully consider inappropriate for young viewers.

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Tracking

Smart devices, like all technologies, have many sides. From the users’ side, we think that smart devices are good because they make decisions on their own, needing less supervision and control from us. Want to phone someone? Just speak to your smartphone. It looks up the number and initiates the call, hands free. Woo hoo. Want to know if you need an umbrella today? Same deal.

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Are We Addicted?

Many families are concerned that they are spending too much time on their devices and/or spending time on the wrong activities. Many experts are happy to tell them that they are, but a more honest answer is, “We don’t know.”

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Vaping

Parents have many legitimate concerns about vaping. Laws concerning cigarette sales and consumption are clear, but vaping is a new attraction. Its long-term effects are unknown. Cigarettes contain tobacco and other chemicals, but vaping offers a new cocktail of unknown chemicals and risks.

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Protecting Online Privacy

Comparitech is a company that offers a variety of online services. As part of its corporate citizenship and marketing, it also offers guides for wise internet use. Among those guides is Protecting Children’s Privacy Online – A Guide for Parents, Carers and Educators.

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