In today’s digital society, many parents are struggling with whether and how they should protect their children from media. In her new book Schermgaande Jeugd, Professor Patti Valkenburg discusses the latest information on children’s media use, what they are attracted to, and the effects of this media use. She also provides practical tools for proactive media education.
Valkenburg shows that most children benefit from the latest generation of screen media: their cognitive and social skills increase as do their friendships and self-confidence. In a small group of children, however, there are more concerns. Amongst this small group, the research shows that media use is linked to attention problems, online risk behaviors, (cyber)bullying, media addiction, and aggression.
Offering the most up-to-date scientific information, Valkenburg highlights the confusion that often occurs in the public debate on youth and media. For example, while the public debate would suggest that gaming is heavily addictive for most youth, this debate confuses gaming with pathological gaming. In fact, only five percent of young people are addicted to games.
When it comes to managing teen’s media use, Valkenburg also discusses tips for parents and caregivers. She explains that teens strongly dislike any interference in their media use because – as with their friends and clothing – media use falls within their personal domain. This explains why so many parents find it difficult to regulate teens’ media behavior. Valkenburg writes that the temptations of smartphones, games, and apps require self-control and that parents can best help their teens manage this media if they communicate with their teen in an autonomy-promoting manner. Valkenburg emphasizes the importance of a consistent message from parents and suggests that, when possible, parents establish media rules even before the media enters the home. By being proactive about household media rules and conveying these rules in an autonomy-supportive and consistent manner, healthy media habits can be established.
Publication Details [book available in Dutch]
Patti Valkenburg: Schermgaande Jeugd. Over Jeugd en Media (Prometheus, november 2014). Paperback, ISBN 978 90 351 4268 8, € 22,95.
Note: The complete press release for this book, in Dutch, can be found here.
Photos from the Book Launch at the Academic Club at the University of Amsterdam