"But my child can be so creative online! It's GOOD for them!"

“But my child can be so creative on devices, it’s good for them!!”

This is so true - devices can be used to create so many new, exciting, amazing things. It’s incredible to see what our kids can come up with armed with an iPad and some spare time.

Here’s the catch. (Or three, to be precise).

1️⃣ Lots of the platforms used for being creative on devices are also platforms that connect children not just with their friends… but with the whole world. Predators included. We know that the majority of parents aren’t supervising their kids online and aren’t using any sort of content filtering. (Which, with a few exceptions, is largely ineffective on social media platforms regardless).

I LOVE encouraging children to be creative… but we need to make sure we do that in a way that is also keeping them safe. Child safety is an adult responsibility. No amount of conversations and education (as important as they are) can replace us making considered, careful choices about where our children spend their time online, or whether they need to be online at all.

Children can be so creative online. They can also be amazingly creative OFFline. You’ll be blown away by what they can come up with and create with just a little boredom and some spare time.

2️⃣ The platforms children use to be creative online are really stimulating and engaging. That’s why they love them so much! These platforms are designed to release such large amounts of dopamine that it can be hard for the offline world to compete.

Everything else can become a little boring and beige in comparison to what they can achieve and find online. (Some kids will be more vulnerable to this change than others).

The online world is appealing for all of us, kids included, because it’s “low effort, high reward”. Ie, we don’t have to do much and we get lots of dopamine, and feel great.

That is, until we have to put our screens down, and remember how to engage in a world that takes more effort, with a brain thats now trained to expect more stimulation before releasing that dopamine hit.

One of the greatest skills you’ll develop in your kids is the ability to make their own fun even in the most boring of situations.

It’s a skill that won’t develop on its own, and definitely won’t develop if we’re to quick to hand them their screen.

3️⃣ Screen time creativity can be misleading.

It looks like they are doing so many amazing things! But the devil may be in the detail.

Are they actually creating from scratch, with nothing but a blank canvas and their own thoughts? Or are they using tools and ideas planted there by someone else? Are they initiating from zero, or did someone else’s idea give them that first initial push?

Wherever possible, we want to give our children's brains the opportunity to be creative on a completely free form way. Following nothing but it’s own drive and ideas, rather than someone else’s. This is where we develop true initiative.

Some platforms do this better than others. But in this regard, no platform measures up to the combination of spare time and a bored kid.

“I still like seeing what my child can do online. It blows me away”.

Ok, I get it… and I’m actually not here to convince you otherwise.

All I ask is for you to hold these three things in mind. Make space for them in your head.

Consider them each and every time you make the choice between screen time, and green time, and make a deliberate - instead of default - decision about what happens next.