We find balance in our digital lives.
We will be talking about how to maintain a balance with our digital lives. We will not be focusing only on your children but as a family as a whole.
Common Sense Media promotes digital well-being and conducts research into the ways to keep students safe online. One of the focuses was ‘screen time’ and they identified four main categories of screen time:
Passive: mindlessly watching videos or shows, scrolling, vegging out
Interactive: playing games, problem-solving
Communication: video-chatting, using social media
Content creation: making digital art or music, coding
Clearly, there are a lot of differences between these activities. And as valuable as many of them can be, it's still important for kids' overall healthy development to balance their lives with enriching experiences away from screens. These tips can help:
Pay attention to how your kids act during and after watching TV, playing video games, or hanging out online. There's no need to worry as long as:
- They're using high-quality and age-appropriate content.
- Their behavior is positive.
Screen time is balanced with other parts of life like sleep, connecting with family and friends, and time outdoors.
When your child asks to use their device, it is good to know what they are working on. Is it passive use, as in watching youtube videos for consumption or watching youtube to learn to create something? Asking for further details is a good way to understand how your child is using their device. Playing games on their iPad, or switch or other device can still teach many skills but ensuring the content is age appropriate is very important.
Fortnite is a popular game amongst students and is part of e-sports competitions in junior high schools in Japan. However, Fortnite is for ages 12 and above but the main concern is not just the shooting component however the bigger concern is the chat function which enables online bullying, adults chatting with children, sharing personal information. If you choose to allow your child to play games that are for older children, please monitor them. Ask them how they feel while playing, but also ensure you have setup the parental functions that do not all chatting in the game if you are not able to speak with your child about the game.
Common Sense Media recommends these top 5 tips for students:
- Create screen-free times and zones.Help kids take breaks from tech by limiting screen time in bedrooms, during study time, or at the dinner table.
Try parental controls.
Set content limits that make sense for your family. Alongside conversations about healthy media habits, use features such as content filtering, privacy settings, and time limits offered by the apps and platforms your family uses to help manage access and exposure to media.
Establish clear family rules.
Decide together what kind of media and tech is OK -- and when it's OK to use it. A family media plan can help get everyone on the same page.
Watch and play together.
Choose quality, age-appropriate media to enjoy with your kids. Visit commonsensemedia.org to find shows, games, and more.
Help kids identify healthy behaviors.
Practice talking about feelings -- both physical and emotional -- during screen and non-screen activities.
When changing family rules to devices, please ensure parents are also included in the rules. If we are telling our child no device at the dinner table, then parents should also have the same rule. Children need consistency and they look to the adults in their life, to understand how to behave. You can set time limits for your child and time limits for adults, they do not need to be the same time limit as maturity levels are different.
With new rules, children will take time to adjust so please do expect there will be a tantrum and arguments. But try to stay consistent with the rules that you have set as a family. It might feel like a long battle but in the long run, it will pay off for the whole family.