SMART DEVICES HAVE CHANGED OUR LIVES FOREVER. From connecting to family in faraway places to instant information only a finger-tap away … there’s a lot to be positive about! But there are plenty of downsides, too …
The Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma is a real eye-opener and a must-watch. And it seems new research is being published every few weeks outlining more troubling trends around these remarkable devices.
Ultimately, we make our own choices about how to respond to this technology – the good and the bad. But it’s essential to be informed. For example, the recent Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report revealed that 88% of those surveyed believe teaching cyber safety is as important as teaching basic life skills.
So here are some of Grapevine’s top tips taken from the many experts, articles and angles we’ve covered over recent years …
‘SHARENTING’ – Stacey Steinberg
- Parents need to be mindful of their own use of social media and devices: how and what they share, and whether their practice aligns with their values.
- Parents should invite their kids into the decision-making process when they share family stuff on social media. Children need their voices heard – they need to be part of the conversation. And they need to have their individual desires for privacy respected.
- Sitting down together and hearing what everyone has to say, then committing to concrete guidelines that the family will act on, helps everyone get and stay on the same page.
‘SCREENWISE’ – Devorah Heitner
- Set clear boundaries around device use and ensure times for the whole family to be unplugged.
- Keep informed: know when your kids are using tech and who they’re contacting – and ensure they know how to deal with problems that come up.
- Be aware that social media is going to ‘turn up the dial’ on whatever’s already happening with your child – problems with others, self-esteem issues, and other issues can be amplified and magnified through their use of social media.
- Put time limits on game-playing and scrolling through social media.
- Keep phones, computers, and other devices in common areas of the house – i.e. not in bedrooms!
‘BRAIN-SCIENCE FOR DUMMIES’ – Nathan Wallis
- The more screen time teens have had during their childhood and adolescence, the more likely they are to experience anxiety and depression, but their risks go down if they have at least two hours a day device-free.
- Teach kids when to put down that device. Have two hours device-free, pause periodically to rest your eyes, and create device-free times and spaces in your home. And most importantly … role-model it yourself.
‘KEEPING KIDS SAFE IN CYBERSPACE’ – Lee Chisolm (Netsafe)
- Putting a filter on your computer is no guarantee that you’ll keep your kids totally safe. Smartphones connect to the internet – so do PlayStations, X-Box, iPod Touch and Wii (the gaming system).
- If your computer isn’t secure, you’re not safe. So you have to think about anti-virus systems, updated operating systems and anti-spyware, strong passwords, etc.
- The most important thing parents can do is be involved with their young people right from the moment they start using the computer. From the very first time they use this technology, whether they’re online yet or not, that’s the time to be talking with them about it. And once kids start going online, parents need to have their rules set out … they need to talk about why this matters, why they don’t want their kids looking at certain types of sites, and so on … they need to make their online activities part of the dinnertime conversation.
‘TETHER YOURSELF’ – Rachel Macy Stafford
“… I doubt many people would knowingly pick up a device that has been proven to negatively influence our thoughts, our choices, our actions, and our future happiness. Yet people who struggle with digital addiction face this choice every day. The virtual world created by social media and online gaming platforms provides an escape from reality and can have addictive qualities.
But awareness changes everything.
When we release what controls us, we are free to choose what matters most.
Let’s choose what matters most … our lives are far too valuable to let drift away.”