Surveys have consistently shown that children are being exposed to increasing amounts of screen time each year.
As parents we’re often concerned about the connections children and young people are making and the subsequent impact on their wellbeing. The time they spend online, scrolling, searching and swiping which could be spent doing outdoor activities is also concerning.
Digital devices are here to stay, so it’s imperative to look at how kids can remain in control of their screen use, and ensure the time they’re investing online is adding something helpful, positive and meaningful to our lives.
Here are four tips to help kids develop healthy digital habits. Being mindful of how time is spent on devices, is certainly not just reserved for young people.
1. Encourage creation not just consumption
Is your child more of a consumer or creator when they’re online? Check to see if they spend time online time in creative mode such as making things, creating own videos, editing photos, writing posts, coding a video game or composing a song. Encourage them to be creative rather than mere consumers of digital content.
2. Discuss who they are following
The digital world encourages leaders and followers. It places people and individuals from all walks of life in close contact with your kids. They can follow companies, musical icons, sports stars as well as friends. Encourage your child to follow people and companies that can fuel their passions.
For instance, if they love space, search for NASA and related accounts. If they love photography, help them find great photographers sharing their work online. When they’re following people that teach, inspire and ignite their passions, they’re less likely to spend valuable time with energy zappers.
3. Digitally de-clutter regularly
Many kids collect apps on their devices in the same way that former generations collected football cards or swap cards. Encourage them to delete the apps they no longer use or apps that offer no benefits to their lives. Could there be better games to play? Are there better videos for them to watch than the ones that the YouTube algorithm believes they want to see?
4. Show kids good practises
Most kids learn much more from what they see and experience, rather than from what they are told. As a parent be intentional with your screen time. Do you:
- Follow people that support you, challenge you in helpful ways or inspire and lift you up?
- Interact in positive ways?
- Give people your attention rather than scroll whilst others are talking to you?
- Put your digital devices away in order to fit all the other important things into your day?
Setting your kids up with healthy digital habits will help make these practises the norm. If you don’t want your children falling prey to the harmful and unhelpful experiences online, you need to be sure that they are focusing on positive and helpful screen time pursuits.
Join Martine Oglethorpe, a technology expert who is an accredited speaker with the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. Martine has a background in secondary education and a Masters in Counselling.
This webinar, Strengthening kids’ self-esteem in a digital world, will look at how we can best equip our young people to thrive both online and in real life as they grow up immersed in online spaces.