By Scott Huver and Jessica Wedemeyer
Jason Bateman has played many roles throughout his career as a Hollywood star, but "bad cop" isn't one of them -- on-screen or off.
"We try to sort of good cop, bad cop it," Bateman told reporters when asked how he and his wife, actress Amanda Anka, handle their kids' usage of technology while promoting his latest film, "Disconnect." "I don't really find a problem with technology or television or anything. … So I'm not that parent. My wife is a little bit more so, but I don't really see a problem with it."
Bateman, a self-proclaimed "product of television," doesn't feel the same burden of his addiction to technology as his on-screen alter ego, a lawyer struggling to connect with his family in the digital age.
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"I grew up watching TV, and I don't think I'm too dumb or too crazy," he said. "I think a big responsibility falls on parents. Well, the kids can't watch 'The Wire,' but there's great educational stuff for them to watch TV if it is TV time. There are great apps on the iPad that are interactive and educational."
The actor's daughters, Maple Sylvie, 14 months, and Francesca Nora, 6, are still too young to have experienced the cons of the digital age -- like becoming the targets of cyberbullying or accidentally revealing private information to the masses -- but the time is fast approaching when those possibilities could become realities.
"It's my job to let them know what the functionality of a lot of this stuff is, and what the ramifications could be if she sends that text or that email or that picture: It can be disseminated without any of her control whatsoever," Bateman said. "So that would be something to look out for, and after that, if she makes a mistake, she's going to obviously learn a painful lesson."
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The "Arrested Development" star added of his live-and-let-learn approach to parenting, "It's the hot stove theory: You can tell them until you're blue in the face that it's hot, but sometimes the best lesson is they actually make the mistake. So I just don't think I'm going to be the kind of parent that sweats putting my kid in a bubble and never wanting to let them out. You just try to prepare them for all the obstacles and help them make the right decisions."
As for the parenting issue du jour, cyberbullying, the actor shrugged off the notion that teaching children about bullying has become more important in the digital age. "Bullying is not something exclusive to the Internet," he said. "That's been around forever. … It falls on us as parents to help people through those instincts [to use the Internet for harm] and try to keep it positive."
Bateman has at least one ally among his "Disconnect" co-stars: Paula Patton, who has a 3-year-old son, Julian Fuego, with husband Robin Thicke.
"You're right: All you can do is try to be a good parent and try to guide [your children] because this is the world we live in," she agreed. "It's not going to go anywhere."
The actress also expressed her concerns for children growing up with so much access to the Worldwide Web. "I feel for children today," she said. "I cannot imagine being in junior high school or high school and having everything posted for everyone to see. It's so crazy how public life is now. You just have to learn how to deal with these things. Just put one foot in front of the other and deal with it as it comes and try to guide your child as best as you can -- and pray."
Even if she has more heightened concerns about the Internet when it comes to raising her son, there's one thing Patton is sure of: "I think Jason sounds like a great dad," she said. "I wish I had that dad."