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Grounded published on No Comments on GroundedPurchase print

There’s a lot of debate, for good reasons, around imposing consequences when kids’ behaviour doesn’t meet parents’ expectations. And when it comes to restricting their access to digital tech, there’s an added wrinkle: our kids may be able to circumvent them.

Sometimes it’s ingenuity on their part. Necessity is the mother of invention, and heaven help the obstacles placed between a child and their Minecraft time. Sometimes it’s just parental sleep-deprivation-induced stupidity… like the time I muttered my iPhone passcode out loud while unlocking the device for my son.

But I can already see that a third factor will soon come into play: the kids just plain knowing more than I do. This whole push to teach kids to code sounds like a great idea until your child roots your laptop from their Speak ‘n’ Spell.

I know, I know: we’re all supposed to be raising our kids in rural communes, and the only “devices” they should ever need are a butter churn and a sheep shear. But I’m more from the parenting school where the only response I expect to “Fetch me the switch” is “16- or 24-port?”


I drew this and six other cartoons about parents, kids and tech for Alexandra Samuel’s session at SXSW 2016, The Myth of the Family Tech Market. It’s based on her two-year study of how more than 10,000 North American parents manage their kids’ interactions with digital technology.

Find out more about Alex’s work around digital parenting here.

Go straight to your chat room, young lady!

Go straight to your chat room, young lady! published on No Comments on Go straight to your chat room, young lady!

As a parent, I’m dazzled by the range of entertainment options my kids and I have. From the educational (I swear!) shows we have loaded up on PVR, to the educational (really!) kids’ apps on our iPhones, to the not-even-a-little-educational clips we watch on YouTube, we could easily while away every hour in a digital haze.

But there’s this whole other world out there of face-to-face interaction, fresh air, exercise and – loath though our children’s parents are to admit it – sleep. And when the time comes to power down the Wii and say goodbye to MySims Agents for another day, tantrums sometimes ensue… and the almighty power of parental discipline has to come into play.

Sometimes just counting sternly to five will do the job. Sometimes something more stringent is called for – like shelving a game for a few days. And sometimes, well, sometimes we’re groping for solutions, like generations of parents before us.

At least for the next few years, Alex and I are in the enviable position of knowing the tech better than our kids do. (We’re reasonably sure than when our then-two-year-old son locked Alex out of her iPhone, and created a ghost partition on our home server, it was random button-pressing at work.) Ask me in another decade, and you may hear a much different story.

With that, let me wish a very happy first birthday to my favourite budding little pair-coding team in the world, and to their parents who could single-handedly make geeky look cool (to me, anyway) all over again.