Parental dialogues

Hear and understand your child in the noise of media

We spend more time at home. All together, but at the same time each separately on our own screens. In a new and little-known space where we are uncomfortable. We found ourselves here already mature, and for our children it is a natural environment since birth. How do immigrants of the digital world communicate with the natives of this world? During distance meetings, media experts help to catch up with what’s happening with us and our children in an ever-changing media environment.

The five-conversation-session was moderated by Marija Giedraitytė-Guzikauskienė, Doctor of Social Sciences, lecturer at Vilnius University and psychologist at the Consulting and Training Centre. Their experiences also shared film and culture historian, media researcher Lina Kaminskaitė-Jančorienė, digital communication strategist and consultant Tomas Nemūra, game developer and programmer Dmitrijus Babičius, literary critic and reading culture expert Eglė Baliutavičiūtė.

Tomas Nemūra will try to systematize the main challenges for children in using media, and share good practices. ‘The more we know about the media, the better the dialogue with children in this context’ reminds the digital communication strategist.

How is the dialogue between parents and children changing under the quarantine conditions?

‘When life moves to virtual reality, both children and adults spend more time on their screens.’ a film historian and media researcher L. Kaminskaitė-Jančorienė expressed her opinion: ‘Therefore, it has become even more difficult to moderate both devices, as well as the content and the time they spend on it. At the same time, it is a good time to discover new media and its forms that can enrich both our quarantine time, and our knowledge. In addition, as we have all noticed, the media can bring us closer together, and we continue to keep in touch with our loved ones’.

Digital communication strategist T. Nemūra reminds that one of the main recommendations of 2020 in the context of the media was a content diet – to limit the time spent on the screen and to devote it to the consumption of useful content. This recommendation was intended not only for children but also for adults. However, as T. Nemūra himself admits: ‘Since the quarantine made everyone stay at their houses, any environmental pressure to control the time spent on the screen disappeared. We continue to repeat to children ‘you’re spending too much time on the screen’, but we ourselves last month have doubled the time spent on the screen instead of implementing content diet implemented…'”

According to game developer D. Babičius, limiting room for privacy, all relationship problems that parents and their offsprings experience when communicating, should now be multiplied fivefold. According to the expert, it is likely that a large number of parents, who previously disfavoured the influence of modern media, will begin to see them as almost the only escape – a child sitting while staring at the TV or keyboard will seem like a relief. ‘But here lies the main challenge, which is also not new – no one has eliminated the negative influence of the media.’ warns D. Babičius. ‘Therefore, even in these difficult times, when all you want to do is leave a child in the virtual world, it is worth not to lose alertness, and ensure that the media content available to the child is of high quality’.

Why is it important for parents to know more about the media and talk about it with their children?

“‘f parents want a deeper, higher-quality relationship with their children, they should take the time to get to know their world, which includes a lot of media.’ says reading culture expert Eglė Baliutavičiūtė. ‘Things we can do together and discuss about them brings us closer. Rarely child, even more so – a teenager, will be persuaded by hearing such things as “no”, “you can’t”, “you’re too young”, “you don’t understand yet” and so on. Educators know that such a formula indirectly encourages to taste the forbidden fruit. Only by understanding the things we want to protect our children from will we be able to explain to them why those things are inappropriate or harmful, and only then will we be able to make clear and persuasive arguments’.

‘I won’t surprise you by saying that the time spent on the screen can be very different – from completely worthless content that works as fast food and repels any desire to be interested in the environment, to spending educational time when a child tells their daily story on a 15-second video format, and developing their creativity’ adds T. Nemūra. ‘Time on the screen is not bad or good in itself. The more we know about the media, to the more appropriate direction will we be able to steer our children’.

Most of us would agree that it’s worth talking to a child about what’s going on at the school, in the yard, at home, because these are the spaces that shape a child’s personality. Media is the same space, only virtual, but here are even more dangers, misleading paths, and harmful information, says D. Babičius. ‘There are two extremities that I would suggest avoiding – leaving a child alone with an unlimited internet and computer games. And just the opposite, to completely forbid any access to these spheres as potentially harmful. You should keep track of what games they play, what websites they visit most often, and, when the time comes, how they get used to social networkings. It is important to gain the child’s trust by constructively introducing the trends of modern media, asking for impressions, reasoning restrictions and, of course, speaking in a language they understand’.

What new and interesting things do parents learn during “Parent Dialogues” meetings?

‘I will talk about why TV series are interesting, how it can help us understand our children’ L. Kaminskaitė-Jančorienė introduces her topic. ‘I will talk about things based on my personal and scientific experience, while presenting the most relevant and interesting modern TV series that are suitable for a few generations and inviting both – children and parents – for a conversation about different worldviews’.

‘I will try to prove that, just like in film, literature or music, there are games that are artistic, educational, and even bring family closer’ promises D. Babičius. ‘Some parents still watch games based on rather abstract theses –games should be played less, there is nothing useful in them, games encourage violence and the like’. A well-known game developer will tell about the history of this field, its current realities, and what, in the opinion of the expert, games can contribute to the educational process. He will also provide examples of game-related hazards that often break through parental “radar”, but are highly relevant today. E. Baliutavičiūtė will provide statistics on adolescent reading and examples of what children think about reading. The literary critic will talk about why reading, especially of longer texts, remains relevant and useful, what arguments and strategies can be used to encourage a teenager to read. The changes of reading in the 21st century will also be discussed, as well as methods that help maintain focus for longer a longer time.

The “Parental dialogues” will take place on 21st of April – 19th of May 2020, every Tuesday on 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. online. Recommended for parents of children aged 9-14, but anyone interested in the topic can participate. Group size is up to 20 people.

Grow and improve with your child – hear each other in the constant noise of information.

Organizers: Literature Cognition Program “Children’s Land” and Media Education and Research Centre “Meno Avilys”