Inside the Hybrid Digital-Analog Lives of Children

Kids today are voracious technology consumers for sure, but they are also active participants—creators, collaborators, and even influencers. So parents have much more to wrestle with than some broad-brush notion of “screen time.” Whatever you think of Fortnite, when children play it they are working together as a team (that’s good!), in a tech-mediated environment (is that bad?); and they’re not just playing a videogame, they’re socializing—factor that into your screen-time calculus.

The youngs are also creating their own content, from unboxing toy reviews and “watch me play Minecraft” videos to DIY slime posts on Instagram, some of them attracting massive audiences and making serious money. They have agency and aspirations online, which makes them vulnerable to the same forces and incentives that continue to transform society. Technology is their native environment as much as the physical world is, and it’s up to parents—most of whom have their own tech-related issues to deal with—to help them thrive in this often mystifying hybrid existence. It’s nothing to freak out about. We’ll all get through this together.

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