We, as a nation, our failing our boys. In my last article, I shared some ways in which technology is altering our boys’ brains. How research shows that the more our boys play violent video games or watch violent TV shows, the more emotionally and psychologically incapable they become of interacting and dealing with the real world. And how, as they sink further socially, so too do they sink academically.
Yet all is not lost. Here are some simple strategies that all of us parents can incorporate into our lives to help make sure our sons do not slip through the cracks.
Strategies for parents
- If you are the parent of a young boy in elementary or middle school, limit his screen time. Most doctors recommend no more than one or two hours per day. This includes television, cell phones, video games, and tablets.
- Know what your child is watching. Parents must parent, and that means being aware of what happens in the video games he plays and the shows he watches. It is up to you to ensure the screen time your child is exposed to is appropriate.
- Communicate with your child’s school. It is important for you to keep open lines of communication with your child’s teachers, so that you are made aware of any changes your child exhibits at school, and you can address those changes head on before your child gets lost in the shuffle.
- Support your son’s wishes for school participation without judgment or gender bias. Encourage him to participate in music, arts, and theater programs if he shows an interest.
- Practice my empathic process. Set aside time to chat with your kids in the kitchen after school or each night, and allow them to share anything about their day with you openly, without judgment or your immediate reaction. This helps build trust, so that when any issues do come up, you know that they already have the confidence in you to share openly and honestly.
- Engage your child from a young age in play that does not involve technology. Make library, science museum, and museum of natural history visits an important part of your regular family time. Give your child free play time to help develop his imagination and hone his problem solving skills.
We may not be able to change our education system or the video game industry overnight, but we do have some control as parents to help ensure our own sons do not fall through the cracks.