These 3 Letters Can Help Kids Thrive in a Digital World
Parents and teachers often wonder “what does a healthy digital world look like”?
This is emphasized by a 2020 study from Pew Research Centre . According to this study, two thirds of parents feel parenting is harder today than 20 years ago, with technologies like social media & smartphones being cited as a reason. Here's how some concerned parents summarized their worries about technology:
“We have so much technology today that was not available 20 years ago. Social media, reality TV shows, video games have really changed our society and how we interact with each other.” – Woman, age 49
“Parents don’t know how to handle the technology.” – Man, age 43
To add to our uncertainty, the current COVID19 situation has shifted much of our lives online. This has made us realize the importance of creating a healthy digital world for our children. Rather than sinking into a feeling of anxiousness, worry and stress about what the digital world holds for us and our kids, a very simple way to create this healthy digital world is by remembering 3 letters: “MSP.” Let me break it down to explain:
Moderate: This is summarized very well by Anya Kamenetz in her book “The Art of Screen Time” in which she says “Enjoy Screens, not too much, mostly together.”
Safe: While we are online, it’s important to keep safe from the harms and threats like cyberbullying, phishing, hacking, and more.
Positive: Digital life comes with many possibilities and opportunities. One way to use the online world positively is to cultivate an online community that supports your interests and hobbies.
To explain this acronym to children, it helps to use the example of food and diet:
We are all different
First of all, it’s important to understand that my version of healthy digital world is very different from anyone else’s. Just as our physical diets vary from person to person, so do our digital diets
Too much of something is not good for any of us — Moderate
Do you remember the last time you ate too many sweets? Did you feel sluggish afterwards? Similarly, too much screen time can cause feelings of fatigue and tiredness too. Sometimes the effects may not show up immediately, but in the long term there may be physical issues like eye strain, anxiety, etc.
Hygiene is very important — Safe
It’s important to maintain hygiene before eating food by washing our hands. Similarly, when online it’s important to maintain hygiene and safety by keeping strong passwords, reading the privacy policies of apps, etc.
Sharing & caring creates a better world — Positive
What gives real happiness is sharing food with others in need or with friends and family and seeing the happiness on their faces. Similarly, true happiness comes when we are empathetic and use our digital lives to contribute to others. This can include everything from sharing a kind word, contributing to a crowdfunding campaign, or supporting a cause we may be passionate about.
Sometimes, It’s okay to indulge in junk food
At times it’s okay to give in to our cravings and indulge in eating junk food like ice cream and cookies. Similarly, in our digital life, sometimes it’s okay to indulge in mindless scrolling on social media unless it starts affecting us negatively.
It's That Simple
To summarize, the type and amount of food we eat shapes our physical selves. If we eat the right types and amounts of vitamins, proteins and carbohydrates, etc., it will grow us into healthy human beings. Similarly, what/how/when we consume and produce online shapes our digital lives and how we grow into healthy human beings. It is that simple.
This three letter “MSP” understanding of a “healthy digital world” will hopefully help you achieve a sense of calm for yourself and your kids and, most importantly, help you become intentional about technology use. My hope is that it will help your kids lead a moderate, safe and positive digital life so that they will thrive in this ever-changing digital world!
 "Parents’ attitudes – and experiences – related to digital technology," Pew Research Centre Study: https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2020/07/28/parents-attitudes-and-experiences-related-to-digital-technology/
 "The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life" by Anya Kamenetz, https://www.amazon.com/Art-Screen-Time-Balance-Digital/dp/1610396723
Author: Rijul Arora is a Certified Digital Wellness Educator whose vision in life is to enable people to lead a healthy relationship with technology. He has delivered this message through 150+ global and local platforms like TEDx, international summits, conferences, podcasts, schools, corporates & colleges.
Moreover, he is a millennial who’s been on both sides of the table- completely addicted to technology, left it completely and now he has a healthy relationship with technology.
He’s also the head of LookUp India which is a youth for youth social venture dedicated to helping young people thrive in the digital world.
His work has also been featured in international & local media houses like YES Magazine, Boston Digital Wellness Lab etc. He is an ardent advocate of using tech in moderation with a focus on digital wellbeing and personal growth.