Kids look to their parents as the go-to model for a variety of areas in their life. Not only for traditional teaching, but also social cues, body language, vocabulary and habits. With the rise in the omnipresent power of digital media, developing a healthy relationship with technology is vital. As a key tool to unwind or catch up on the world, technology’s ability to be always seen can be damaging.
Greenwood’s resident children’s technology and development expert Dr Kristy Goodwin has stopped by the blog to share some tips on how we as parents can be more aware of our digital behaviour and our responsibility as digital role models.
Have a device free dinner
Family dinners are already an integral part of maintaining the family dynamic. We are wired to connect and in our screen-saturated world having tablets at the table only encourages distraction and disconnection. Common Sense Media notes that “Ninety-two percent of parents think quality conversations at dinnertime matter for connecting with their kids”.
Screen-free dinners allow the opportunity to connect and share the things that are happening in our lives – leaving devices away from the table allows us to build those critical communication and social skills in our children.
Dr Kristy recommends having a specific landing zone for devices to stay during dinner. Perhaps on the kitchen bench top and remember to keep them on silent if you aren’t expecting an urgent call.
Remember it is not just our digital reliance on mobile devices at the dinner table, but TVs too. The Pew Research Center found that 34% of families said that the TV was on for all or most dinners.
Go for quality of media, not quantity
Ensure that the media your child engages with is balanced. Don’t count every minute they are online, instead the time they spend should be on a mixture of fun and educationally rich activities or apps.
As Dr Kristy says, “children need moderation not abstinence when it comes to technology”.
Set clear boundaries
Whilst every family dynamic is different, it is essential we strike the right balance between family time and screen time. As parents, we’re constantly concerned about the health effects screen time has on our children, yet we often fail to observe our own digital dependence.
Dr Kristy encourages us to “make sure children’s screen time doesn’t rob them of the quintessential elements of a magical childhood. They still need time to play, explore, and be creative with ample white space.” Create a healthy relationship with digital media use in the house by setting clear time limits for both you and the kids. Ensure that the time limits you create suit your family’s schedule – and stick to them!
Switch off from work
Nowadays we are so accessible to our jobs and more often than not are we bringing our work from the office home with us. To remain present and less distracted be sure you create boundaries for work time and family time.
Use technology together
Our children crave our attention! When your little one is engaging with technology be involved in what they are playing. Watch, listen, play and encourage them to behave positively online.
For more information on taking the correct steps towards model digital citizen status, head over to Dr Kristy’s website here.
Dr Kristy Goodwin is a leading children’s technology, learning and development expert, speaker and author. She arms parents and educators with research-based information about what today’s digital kids really need to thrive online and offline.