Jordan Wheatcroft, Counsellor, Brooklyn Park
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
The internet is an incredible tool with opportunities to enhance our lives, circumnavigating much of the work, and pain involved with the same processes offline. Helpful it may be, it's also a portal to potential criminal activity, negative influences, and harm. As a parent, I'm acutely aware of the need to equip our children to be not just proficient but discerning users of technology.
In this article, I'm excited to share some invaluable tips for establishing healthy tech habits. You may find that you're already practicing some of these, which is fantastic. Sometimes, the key to transformative change lies in amplifying what's already working.
As we delve into these tips, let's view them through the lens of cyber safety. These strategies not only promote a wholesome digital lifestyle but also serve as small yet potent shields against harmful online behaviours.
Establish clear boundaries
Define specific times and places for technology use. This will help you and your children create designated spaces and times for technology, ensuring that it doesn't encroach on family time or other important activities.
Create tech-free zones in your home, such as the dining room and bedrooms. These areas should be free from smartphones, tablets, and other digital distractions, encouraging face-to-face interactions.
Practice mindful technology use
Use technology mindfully by being present in the moment. When you're with your children, put away your devices and give them your full attention. This will make them feel valued and respected.
Maintain open communication with your children about their technology use. Encourage them to share their online experiences, challenges, and concerns. Address any issues with empathy and understanding.
Be aware of your own screen time
Use screen time tracking apps or features to monitor your own device usage. This awareness can help you recognise when you might be spending too much time on screens.
Lead by example
Show your children how to use technology as a tool for learning, creativity, and productivity. Demonstrate how you can be productive, find valuable information, and stay connected with loved ones through technology.
Teach critical thinking
Help your children develop critical thinking skills for evaluating the content they encounter online. Discuss the importance of verifying information and recognising credible sources.
Engage in tech-free activities together
Plan and participate in tech-free family activities regularly, such as hiking, picnics, volunteering, or exploring new hobbies. These experiences help your children see the value in unplugging and enjoying the real world.
Adapt and evolve
Be willing to adapt your technology habits as needed. As your children grow and technology evolves, your approach to digital wellness may need adjustment.
One other point I want to make comes from a novel I listened to a couple of years back called ‘Indistractable’ – by Nir Eyal and Julie Li. This book shares the authors journey to reduce his unhelpful habits of technology use, and in turn increase healthy habits that enrich his life. Nir Eyal also spoke on the psychology companies use for distraction to keep you hooked on their product. Scrolling that next meme, short or pic feeds dopamine to the brain making it an addictive practice. I found it a helpful read and it has caused me to change some of my unhelpful habits.
Being ‘indistractable’ with technology means using it as a tool to enhance your life rather than letting it control you. By setting a positive example and creating a balanced tech environment at home, you can help your children develop a healthy relationship with technology and equip them with the skills needed to navigate the digital world responsibly. Remember, your child needs you to establish the rules and expectations. Involving them in setting this up is helpful, creating ownership and student agency, but you must be the one to decide the bottom line.
If your child is struggling or you have concerns, please reach out to our wellbeing team. If you would like to request counselling support for your child, you can make a referral on the Wellbeing Support page on the Emmaus Website.
Top tips by Susan Mclean - https://www.cybersafetysolutions.com.au/top-tips/
Nir and Far Indistractable - https://www.nirandfar.com/indistractable/
As the Good book says:
"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2 (NIV)
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)