Kids, Sex, and Screens: Upping Your Parenting Game

If you’re curious whether you should stalk your kids online (spoiler: you should, at least for a while), this is the woman to ask.

My guest this week is Dr. Jillian Roberts. She’s a child psychologist, a professor, and the associate dean at the University of Victoria. And she’s also the author of the new book, Kids, Sex, and Screens: Raising Strong, Resilient Children in the Sexualized Digital Age.

I asked Dr. Roberts to explain the problem she’s trying to solve with this book. She explained that when she first started practicing as a psychologist, the clients she had referred to her had trouble wetting the bed, or a failed math test, or a bully on the playground.

But now the challenges she sees are much more acute: children being solicited online, being addicted to screens, and stumbling on sexual material before they’re ready.

As a result, she’s devised what she calls a 7-Point Compass of solutions for parents to deal with today’s challenges. An outline of the compass is below. But please click play above and listen to our conversation as she explains each of them in more detail.

  1. Start talking early – before they get online. 5 or 6 years old
  2. Give unconditional love
    • Don’t shame them when you find a child being curious
    • Don’t react in anger
  3. Stay current – Be nimble and aware of online influences.
    • Get a Snapchat account
    • Teach them how to be a good digital citizen
    • Follow them online, at least for a while, while they’re learning
  4. Set smart boundaries
    • Self – be true to yourself and your values
    • Family – are you violating family expectations?
    • Community – what are your community’s standards?
    • Online – are you sharing shallow minutia? Purpose of your sharing? Something helpful? Consensual? Advocating for a cause?
  5. Nurture relationships IRL, not just on-line.
  6. Lose stigma and prejudice around taboo topics
    • Get rid of the awkwardness of talking about sexuality. Be very matter-of-fact.
  7. Build resilience
    See list of 40 top things in the book that parents can do to build their kid’s grit and resilience.

You can find out more about Dr. Roberts and her work at drjillianroberts.com or familysparks.com.

Click these links to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, or Podbean.

Paul Smith is one of the world’s leading experts on business storytelling. He’s a keynote speaker, storytelling coach, and bestselling author.

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