When it comes to children, we’re always guiding them to develop healthy life skills. Technology is no exception.
Teaching healthy tech usage to children is easier said than done. For many parents, their kids have a more intuitive understanding of devices than they do. In fact, 40% of parents are learning about technology from their children! If this is the case, how can parents and educators teach children about healthy tech usage?
These are the 5 key ways to start helping your child develop a healthy relationship with technology now.
1. Make a habit talking about technology experiences.
The most important thing you can do is start the conversation early. Seventy per cent of children between the age of 7 and 18 accidentally find online pornography while doing homework. If your child feels comfortable talking about all that is on the internet, the harmful and the not-harmful, they’ll feel comfortable talking to you if they stumble on something upsetting.
2. Guide them towards online safety habits.
Between 2006 and 2007, there were 464 reported incidents of child luring online in Canada. Many believe predators use tricks and false information. However, they’re generally honest with their intentions and prey on children who need sympathy, affection, and kindness in their lives. Unfortunately, I frequently see many cases of young people starting relationships online that may not meet the criteria of child luring but are very unhealthy..By developing the habit of discussing internet safety with your children, having parental controls, and and fulfilling their emotional needs, you create a safe space for your children to tell you how their online relationships are developing.
3. Create a habit of digital empathy and kindness.
Cyberbullying is a serious concern with the expansion of social media and private messaging platforms. Of Canadian students between grades 4 and 11, 37% of them report being bullied online. Bullying can lead to numerous health issues including headaches, stomach problems, depression, and anxiety in those who experience it.
Healthy online behaviour means being empathic and recognizing that you need to treat others the way you want to be treated. If you wouldn’t appreciate the same comment made about you, don’t say it online. Speak to your children about being kindness, healthy conflict resolution, communication skills, and cyberbullying. Explain what cyberbullying it looks like, how they can report it, and tell a parent or guardian if they see it happening or experience it themselves.
4. Focus on screen-quality, not screen-time habits.
Don’t get into the trap of just counting time and not quality of screen use.In my book, The Tech Solution, Ii suggest using the idea of a tech diet to understand what our technology experiences are being metabolized to and how that impacts us.
Avoid Toxic Tech: Cortisol releasing tech leading to stress like addictive tech (gaming disorder), FOMO, comparisons, perfectionism, multitasking, cyberbullying, poor posture, sleep deprivation.
Limit & Monitor Junk Tech: Dopamine releasing tech like mindless gaming & social media. Watch for addiction!Consume Healthy Tech: “P.O.D” based tech that releases Endorphins through downtime and self-care, Oxytocin through meaningful connection with others, & Serotonin through play & creativity.
5. Stay educated.
Technology is always changing. Parents, guardians, and educators must stay up to date on new apps and risks associated with technology.
What can you do right now to help children develop healthy relationships with technology?
Now’s a perfect time to get your child involved in healthy uses of technology. With the COVID-19 pandemic still at the forefront of global news, children need ways to engage with their peers and form healthy bonds. Technology can have a dramatically positive impact on children when used healthily.
Pick up your copy of Dr. Shimi Kang’s new book, The Tech Solution: Creating Health Habits for Kids Growing Up in a Digital World, today or sign up for our new online course The Tech Solution Reset. Learn more about our relationship with technology and the difference between healthy and unhealthy tech usage for children and families.