Tips to manage screen time

Carl Hotko

It seems like every time we turn around as parents we are told two conflicting things: 
1. That our children need devices to complete their school work.
2. That our children are spending too much time looking at screens.

The truth is that our world is changing and being a child and student in 2019 looks very different from being a child and student last century.

I can be easy to focus solely on the clock when considering healthy boundaries for a family and their screen use. However, looking at screen time in the context of their overall health and wellbeing is probably more constructive. 

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner’s parents page offers these 7 tips to developing a healthy approach to a family’s screen time:

1: Be involved
Sharing screen time and online activities like gaming with your child helps you gauge the appropriateness of what they are doing and manage potential risks. It’s also a great way to start conversations with your child about their online experiences.

 

2: Work with your child to set boundaries for screen use
If you decide that setting screen time limits is right for you and your child, discuss these new rules with your child. Older children are more likely to cooperate if they have been part of the decisionmaking process. Colourful pictures or charts of daily limits and other important activities is a fun way to get younger children on board.

 

3: Be clear about the consequences of not switching off
Part of our role as parents is to set clear limitations and boundaries. The same applies to technology limitations so, being clear and consistent about the consequences for your child if they do not stick to these rules is paramount. The Raising Children Network provides some useful tools and advice.

 

4: Set device-free zones and times at home

Device-free zones can help you manage your family’s digital use. Here are some ideas for setting digital boundaries within your home:
• no devices in the bedroom for younger children
• all screens off in bedrooms after a certain time for older children
• all screens off at least one hour before planned bedtime
• all family members switch off at dinner time
• charge devices overnight in a place your child cannot access 

 

5: Ask your child to explain their screen use
Get your child in the habit of explaining why they want to be in front of a screen or online. It’s a great way to get them thinking about their own digital habits and balancing screen time with other activities.

 

6: Use tech tools to help manage access
There are robust products and device functions which allow you to see which apps are being used in your home and for how long. But try not to use these tools to secretly monitor your child. Instead, be open about the process and check the whole family’s usage, including your own. Start with Google Family Link for Android devices or parental controls and Screen Time for iPhone/iPad.

 

7: Lead by example
Your behaviour is one of the most effective ways to help your child develop a positive digital mindset. Show your child you can put down your device too.

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First day photos

Carl Hotko

New uniforms washed and ironed. New shoes are shined. Pencil cases are full of coloured pencils and pens. New lunch boxes, water bottles and bags are filled and our children are ready for learning. The start of the school year can be an exciting time for both parents and students. It’s time for families to settle back in to the term time routine and for all of our social media feeds to be full of back to school pics. However, before you fill your friends feed, can I ask you to take a moment first.

Taking photos of our children create great opportunities, not only to capture memories but also to teach them about consent and respect online. It gives us as parents the opportunity to have conversations about why we would want to share their photos and also to talk about where the photos will go and what the potential consequences are. By having these conversations often and early, we can help children and young people develop an awareness of some of the strengths and pitfalls of having their images online. As we model the courtesy of asking before we share their image online, we also need to model not sharing if our children say “no”. While this can be frustrating, hopefully, this will become part of the way our children approach online images so that they can be a little more careful about the way they share their own or their friends images online.

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner recommends the following steps that you can take to reduce the possibility of exposure to harm.

1. Avoid sharing photos and videos that contain personal details, such as full names, personal contact information, or uniforms that identify a location. (If in a school of sporting team uniform, try to avoid the crest if possible)

2. Avoid adding comments to photos that identify locations, e.g. street address, the name of the school your child is attending, or even identifying features in front of your home.

3. Only share with people who you really know and trust. Rather than posting to all of your friends on social media, be selective and use the privacy settings on your social media platform. Also, be aware that if one of your friends likes your picture, it may also become visible to their friends. If you’re not comfortable with this, you might reconsider how you share your child’s image.

4. Always check with other parents before posting and sharing images which include their children.

5. Be mindful of metadata—most digital photos contain information about the time, date and GPS coordinates of where the photo was taken. Some social media platforms automatically hide or remove this data, so do your homework and know how much info you’re sharing.

For more helpful information about the digital environment and how to help your child have safe and enjoyable online experiences visit iParent.

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Why your kids saying “I’m bored” is actually a good thing

Carl Hotko

“I’m bored!”
As parents, we have all heard it.
“But I’m bored!”
As parents, we probably all dread it.
I do too. At least, I used to.
Earlier this year, I was at a Creativity Summit sponsored by Griffith University and I heard something revolutionary. John Marsden, the acclaimed author of the Tomorrow Series, said (to a room full of academics, researchers and educators trying earnestly to increase the level of creativity in our classrooms) this:

“During my schooling, boredom was profoundly beneficial to me.

He was speaking as though boredom was where his stories had been born. That all of his creativity had come from moments of daydreaming and gazing out the window at nothing. This was intriguing to me. And then I saw this…

How Boredom Helps You Do Your Best Thinking

“The average person checks email 74 times a day, and switches tasks on their computer 566 times a day.” — Manoush ZomorodiIs staving off boredom actually ruining your creativity? Watch the full TED Talk here: http://bit.ly/2NRqbqz

Posted by TED on Wednesday, 5 September 2018

As the Spring holidays fast approach, there are two short weeks for our children to recharge and refresh their minds for the last school term of the year. Aside from sleeping well, allowing or even encouraging our children to be bored may be the best thing we can do for their minds. Dr Sandi Mann says this:

“Once you start daydreaming and allow your mind to really wander, you start thinking a little bit beyond the conscious, a little bit into the subconscious, which allows sort of different connections to take place. It’s really awesome, actually.”

With the prolific rise of screen use and particularly the trend of multiple screen use parallel to each other, Dr Daniel Levitin comments on the mental fatigue of multitasking and says:

“Every time you shift your attention from one thing to another, the brain has to engage a neurochemical switch that uses up nutrients in the brain to accomplish that. So if you’re attempting to multitask, you know, doing four or five things at once, you’re not actually doing four or five things at once, because the brain doesn’t work that way. Instead, you’re rapidly shifting from one thing to the next, depleting neural resources as you go.”

These holidays let’s let our children be bored for long enough to be truly creative. They may even surprise themselves…

If you have 15 minutes or so, here is the full TED talk that the above clip was taken from.
Manoush Zomorodi: How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas.

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What smartphones have to say about “the birds and the bees”

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According to a 2017 study, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 100% of the young men and 82% of the young women (aged 15-29) had viewed pornography. 38% of viewing pornography was through a Smartphone and 87% was viewed alone. Children and Teens with smart devices behind closed doors can be a recipe for trouble…

While pornography is not going away, it simply makes too much money for too many people, it is also becoming more easily available and increasingly violent. Another study found that 88% of scenes contained physical violence and 87% of that violence was directed at females.

The Pornography Industry is telling a stream of lies to children and young people about relationships. Built on exploitation and degradation and disguised as pleasure,  when children and teenagers listen to these lies it can greatly damage their potential for safe and healthy future relationships. Pornography has been linked to increased domestic violence, sexual assault, poor mental health, human trafficking and slavery, as well as sexual dysfunction at a lower age.

Below are some articles from iParent with some ideas on how you can navigate conversations around pornography with your children. As parents, if we don’t talk to our children about this issue, I know of an industry who is more than happy to on our behalf…

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#Talkb4Sharing

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Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter, WhatsApp, Discord… it seems that as the internet continues to grow, it is becoming more and more focused on the sharing of photos. In addition to this, as the smartphones in our pockets continue to have better and better cameras built into them, all of us are becoming photojournalists with almost every moment of our lives being published to a potentially international audience.

This, in turn, creates a minefield for parents and young people to navigate that is something that today’s parents (like me), largely missed while we grew up. While our children will likely be far better at parenting through this issue because of growing up through it, we need to think a little harder and be a little more deliberate in our approach to this selfie and photo saturated world.

Taking photos of your children create great opportunities, not only to capture memories but also to teach them about consent and respect online. It gives us as parents the opportunity to have a conversation about why we would want to share their photos and also to talk about where the photos will go and what the potential consequences are. By having these conversations often and early, we can help children and young people develop an awareness of some of the strengths and pitfalls of having their images online. As we model the courtesy of asking before we share their image online, we also need to model not sharing if our children say “no”. While this can be frustrating hopefully, this will become part of the way our children approach online images so that they can be a little more careful about the way they share their own or their friends images online.

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner recommends the following steps that you can take to reduce the possibility of exposure to harm.

1. Avoid sharing photos and videos that contain personal details, such as full names, personal contact information, or uniforms that identify location.

2. Avoid adding comments to photos that identify locations, e.g. street address, the name of the school your child is attending, or even identifying features in front of your home.

3. Only share with people who you really know and trust. Rather than posting to all of your friends on social media, be selective and use the privacy settings on your social media platform. Also, be aware that if one of your friends likes your picture, it may also become visible to their friends. If you’re not comfortable with this, you might reconsider how you share your child’s image.

4. Always check with other parents before posting and sharing images which include their children.

5. Be mindful of metadata—most digital photos contain information about the time, date and GPS coordinates of where the photo was taken. Some social media platforms automatically hide or remove this data, so do your homework and know how much info you’re sharing.

For more helpful information about the digital environment and how to help your child have safe and enjoyable online experiences visit iParent.

 

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