School holidays are here (wait what again!) and it’s the perfect time to look at how your family and technology are working together in your household. You are working, the young ones are fighting over the INSERT TECHNOLOGY OF CHOICE HERE and your teenager hasn’t looked up from their mobile phone for hours. Family survival mode is real especially at this time of year when fatigue is high and everyone including the kids are ready for a holiday. Here are a few simple but effective ways you can work together as a family to have a happy and healthy year with technology.
Once you have all had a chance to wind down from the year a good place to start is to sit down as a family and review your year with technology. What you all learnt, ways you enjoyed technology, what isn’t working and the reasons why, did any issues arise due to technology use and what does technology look like for your family in 2022. All members of the family can contribute to the conversation from toddlers to adults. Safe and healthy technology practices should be discussed as soon as your child picks up a phone or tablet.
Consultation and Agreement
If you don’t already have a family technology agreement this is a good opportunity to start the new year planning for a safe, fun and positive digital experience. If everyone contributes to creating an agreement, in a format that suits your family with unique rules and responsibilities, the more likely it will be followed by all.
You may want to start from scratch to make your family agreement 100% unique however if you are looking for a little guidance on format here are some examples that you may find useful:
If you have teenagers in your home, technology and peer influence go hand in hand. It can be challenging to come to agreement when their peers may be allowed more freedom with technology. To provide your teenager with digital autonomy doesn’t mean they shouldn’t expect rules and responsibilities around usage. However, it does mean they can be apart of the conversation to come to a mutual agreement.
You should always be their most trusted source of guidance and here at Internet Safe Education we have created an Internet & Phone Usage Contract specific for teenagers.
“Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating. ” J. Wooden
Children are programmed to model the behaviour they observe. Each time we pick up our phone to look at social media, open our laptops to check our work emails, order groceries online or do your banking they are watching you and learning. Learning how you behave, how you prioritise, whether you are paying attention or zoning out and how much time you spend doing it. You are modelling behaviours they will ultimately imitate. If we aspire to be healthy digital citizens our children will too. Explain to them what you are doing online, being open and transparent with them will encourage them to do the same. The great thing about being transparent and working as a family to come up with a plan means no one has to be perfect all the time.
Finally, a digital detox may be something that can provide you all with the reset you need. When adults and children alike are tired and want to tune out it is easy to get stuck in a technology loop of passive usage like social media scrolling, going down a YouTube rabbit hole or gaming for hours on end. For your family detox may not be a week-long cold turkey scenario but perhaps technology free day/s where you plan a family outing, a change of scenery or mini holiday away with no Wi-Fi. I know, I know I hear the screams, eye rolling and groaning about life being unfair from here. They may be resistant to begin with but even begrudging participation is a step in the right direction. Who knows it may be the experiences they tell their kids about – Remember when mum and dad took all our devices off us and took us camping in the rain?
Only you will know what is right for your family to create a happy and healthy environment where everyone thrives with technology. Remember your children will benefit from your experience and adult instincts and your goal is to keep them safe. If you are reading this article and are educating yourself to manage technology in your home with the intention to keep your family safe you are winning already.