I’ve read my fair share of blog posts, articles, and books on helping kids and teens navigate the digital age they live in. The brand new book Right Click: Parenting Your Teenager in a Digital World may not be the most extensive one, but it is one of the most level-headed approaches so far.
Right Click was authored by the Fuller Youth Institute, the same research institute that also published the widely acclaimed book Sticky Faith (if you’re a parent and you haven’t read that one: read it. Seriously, that book has taught me so much on how to ‘transfer’ my faith to my son). That means they don’t just throw alarming statistics around—on the contrary. They even warn that stats on teens and media use for instance are anything but clear. And they completely stay away from quoting anything on teens, digital media, and sex, since these stats are notably unreliable. I appreciate their value on being accurate and supporting their claims with research.
Right Click: Parenting Your Teenager in a Digital World
At the same time, they’re acknowledging that we’re in new territory here. We are making it up as we go along, because we are the first generation to parent kids in a completely digital world. We’re digital immigrants—they’re digital natives. Big difference.
One eyeopener for me was the insight into how teens think about digital media, and how much this differs from how I approach it. And I’m anything but a digital newbie, being firmly embedded in a digital culture. The authors show however how much of what teens do on media is about their identity and trying to figure out who they are. The perceived needs behind their online behavior are completely different from mine and ours.
Right Click is not about rules, nor about how to handle specific media or apps—it’s about opening up honest conversations. The book offers many suggestions on how to approach these, for instance about creating a digital family covenant, creating technology-free spaces, and how to use technology to bring your family closer together. Not all of these may fit your family or circumstances (as the authors acknowledge as well), but I walked away with solid ideas for creating healthy boundaries for my son.
The authors have interviewed dozens of parents and their quotes and stories are throughout the book. These added valuable insights and experiences—if only the feeling that we’re in this together and that I’m not the only one trying to figure it out.
If you have kids, I highly recommend this book. And not just for parents of teens; I think parents of younger kids will be greatly inspired to get off to a good start at a younger age when it comes to technology and media.