Parents modelling healthy technology use is an effective way to help a child learn to use it responsibly.
We all know it, the attitudes and behaviour of parents provides a child with the unspoken permission in how to meet society expectations. This influence can extend to the type of food a child likes to eat, how they respond in a stressful situation, even the language they use with those around them. A parent can certainly be considered as a child’s greatest influencer.
With this in mind, we encourage you to reflect upon [and recognise] the influence, positive and negative, you have on your children. When it comes to learning how to be safe, responsible and respectful digital citizens the behaviours you model can create confident, independent and safe digital kids.
So often at the Cyber Safety Project we have parents seeking advice in how to “disconnect” their child from their devices or become less obsessed with engaging in the online world. It’s important to maintain a healthy balance with technology, so our advice is to be consistent with boundaries, model the type of behaviour they’d so much like to see in their children, and teach them the steps to self-regulate their own digital use.
Let’s demonstrate to our children the type of healthy technology use we’d like to see them adopt.
12 ways to model healthy use of technology to your child
1. Show how you use technology in positive ways such as connecting with family, planning a holiday or looking up a local park for a weekend bike ride.
2. Demonstrate good self management when using technology, such as if you receive a text message, be sure to complete the conversation you’re having before checking your phone and turn off app notifications to avoid checking your phone continuously.
3. Work together to create a list of entertainment ideas that are alternatives to technology. That way, when ‘time is up’ they can make their own independent choices.
4. Track your screen time and create goals for the future, such as limiting your own consumption of technology around your children.
5. Talk about the differences between productive technology use (for work) vs. social entertainment (watching videos and scrolling social media).
6. Gain permission from your children (and others) when you take their photograph and before you post to social media.
7. Charge your phone at the family charging station and not in your bedroom.
8. Never use your phone while driving.
9. Switch off tv and screens during mealtimes.
11. Set time aside that is technology free and just enjoy being “in the moment” (ie. children’s sporting events).
12. Avoid giving your child screens for car travel. Consider podcast stories as an alternative.
Children look to us to demonstrate how to behave and use technology. Whilst at times we might struggle with our own ability to balance technology with alternative activities, it is important that we show the young people around us how it can done. ‘Monkey See – Monkey Do’.
Maybe it’s time for a family huddle!
Establishing routine and family protocols about technology as early as possible can set everyone at home up for success online. Download our Conversations Checklist and Family Use Guidelines Templates and empower everyone at home to create a safe environment at your place.
Author: Kate Lloyd (Mother & Founder of Laughing Kids Learn)