We all know what it’s like to get hooked on a T.V. show or a Facebook feed or an email to do list. It’s the plight of the modern man – the desire to be in the digital world versus the real world. A recent study highlighted how grown adults will choose an electric shock when sitting alone doing nothing for 15 minutes – a reflection of how reliant we are on being stimulated from the outside.
Now consider our children. Children aged 6 this year are the first to have grown up with the iPad their whole life (the iPad turned 7 this year). As our latest webinar special guest Dr Kristy Goodwin points out this may be why teachers have seen a significant increase in the number of learning difficulties such as higher rates of short-sightedness, socialization difficulties, poor fine motor skills, short attention spans… and the list goes on.
Dr Goodwin pointed out that screen time literally bombards their nervous system – this is one reason for the techno tantrum but also why kids find it hard to go from the screen to the dinner table. Eating is predominantly a sensory activity but if their nervous system and sensory system has been overloaded with screen use it’s hard for them to sit down to eat. One suggestion she had was to get them to do something physically active post screen time, especially before sitting down eat – like going for a walk, setting the table, giving them something to touch – something to calm them down to help re-calibrate their brain (and entire body for that matter). Time in nature is good – green time vs screen time. Emerging research of nature time shows that it helps slows the brain down.
Techno Kids – Parenting in a Digital World was a fantastic webinar. Dr Goodwin shared a treasure chest full of useful stuff we can use to educate ourselves with to parent our children about safe and sensible technology habits. There’s far too much to mention in this article however it is now available for upload free on our podcast here.
Some strategies Dr Goodwin shared for avoiding techno tantrums were:
- If child doesn’t understand time then giving them time limits is meaningless. Rather than amount of time give them quantities. Ie you can watch one episode of playschool today
- Give them psychological priming – ‘it’s almost time that you are going to turn off’ and make sure you get their eye contact.
- Give them time screen limit before the device goes on
- Give them the cut off time is even better.
- Use a generic clock timer to lock the device after set time
- Give them an appealing transition activity
- Give kids a sense or locus of control – rather than you turning the device off allow the child to feel like they have some control by getting them to turn off
- Be consistent with your boundaries and parameters over time makes it easier.
- We don’t want it to be the forbidden fruit or usage to go underground – get them to talk about an issues that arise ie cyber bulling or something that upsets them. It’s very important they know we all make mistakes so we need to reassure them.
- Do not use screen time as a reward or punishment tool – digital amputation.
- Set up parental controls on devices – use The Family Zone to help you create rules around what you child can access on all devices. Keep an active role – don’t assume your child is safe.
- Teach them that tech is just a tool – its not toxic we just need to find the right way to use it.
- Talk to children about online etiquette – what’s an appropriate way to behave online?
- Be a good role model – reflect to them healthy tech habits. What are our family rules? Devices in bedrooms or at the dinner table? Establish tech free zones.
Apps Dr Goodwin recommended
Australian Council of Children and Media – http://childrenandmedia.org.au/app-reviews/ (Australian movie and app reviews)
Common Sense Media – lets you find apps that are appropriate for your child. https://www.commonsensemedia.org/mobile (app, movie, TV, website, video game reviews)
The Family Zone – online safety tool https://www.familyzone.com/drkristygoodwin
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