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Creating A Digital Onlife Balance During Summer Break 2021

A Family Plan for Pre-Teens and Younger Teens


Caveat: The term “onlife world” was coined by Professor Luciano Floridi. Although many parents see a difference between the online and the offline world, today, youth see it as one world, or what Professor Luciano Floridi has coined the “onlife” world. Remember, not every day needs to be a tech day, but when it is the “power of three” can help find the balance when it comes to screen activity.


Now that the 2020/21 school year is coming to an end, parents are concerned that because of COVID, many outdoor summertime activities will once again be limited resulting in their child wanting to spend more time online, a concern for many parents. Over the past year, there has been a real push by some special interest groups advising parents to limit screen time, given what they believe to be the negative emotional, psychological, physical, and social effect it has on youth and teens. Important note – this is something that is not supported in the good academic peer-reviewed research, specific to balanced screen activity, that we speak to in our FREE web-book called Parenting in An Online World (1).


What are well-respected researchers saying specifically to youth and their technology use, “the question should not be how much time is your child spending online, but rather what are they doing with that time?” As Professor Sonia Livingstone has stated, the measurement shouldn’t be screen time, but rather their “screen activity” (2).


Too many parents still like to reminisce about what it was like when they were kids and apply those thoughts and feelings to how youth today should be spending their leisure time. I’m sure some of the parents reading this article can remember when their parent said, “when I was your age this is what I did during my summer holidays ….” However, when today’s parent was young, the internet, social media, and digital technology either did not exist or was very limited in their accessibility and use. Remember, the iPhone was first sold in 2007, so it has only been around now for about fourteen years. This generation of youth is the first generation to be raised in a world where they know nothing but digital. This fact is why attempting to apply past norms and behaviours from our youth, specific to leisure time, has very little relevance to today’s teen “onlife” world. As we share with parents:


“When we share our concerns with our kids about their onlife world, we should do so in a way that ties into where they are today, and is relevant to their life and appeals to their intelligence and experience.”


We are not saying that parents should allow unrestrained free-range consumption of tech