Now that we’ve got a few weeks of lockdown under our belts, we’re starting to see technology transform almost every aspect of our family life. Family Zoom birthday parties, Netflix screenings with friends and Joe Wicks’ PE lessons on YouTube are now shaping our days. But what will this all mean moving forwards? What have we learned about our family’s relationship with technology?
The Covid-19 pandemic has given families an extreme opportunity to experiment with what does and doesn’t work when it comes to how they use technology. Many have got into the swing of things, scheduling ‘tech time’ and outdoor activities into their days. Others have learned to take each day as it comes and not put too much pressure on themselves.
At Digital Awareness UK, we recently spoke to a group of parents about how their families’ daily routines have changed since the lockdown and they shared some interesting insights. There was certainly a lot of concern around the impact that excessive screen time was having on their children’s wellbeing. One mother joked that her two year old daughter has discovered if she asks mummy to watch Peppa Pig three times while she’s on a work call the answer will always be “Yes!”
But there were also many positives these parents wanted to learn from and make part of their family’s Covid-19 tech legacy. These were some of their observations.
Social media gets real
A father described his daughter’s Instagram account as being “a breath of fresh air” since the start of lockdown. He said that it seemed everyone was on a level playing field – with no parties, sleepovers etc, you could take FOMO (fear of missing out) out of the equation. He noticed his daughter and his own friends were flooding news feeds with more positive content - sports challenges raising money for the NHS, pictures of friends going for walks and cycle rides, community-focused posts about how they could help one another.
Will this change how we share on social media moving forwards? People might think twice about what they post online. With the renewed focus of being kind to one another, social media posts will see a rise in more thoughtful comments or posts. It might just make us all think about who is at the other end of the screen.
Older family members get digital
Another parent of toddlers said she nearly fell off her chair when her mum started setting up video calls to read her children a bedtime story every night. Who knew Grandma was a Zoom guru? Many people will have encouraged older family members to get to grips with video calls, group messaging etc. It’s worth noting that older generations can be more susceptible to scams so if you have an older relative, check out Age UK’s advice on staying safe online and remind them of the do’s and don’ts
Will we stay better connected with older generations? Certain habits will stick. Whether that’s Face-Timing Grandma or staying connected with your weekly yoga session via Zoom.
We’ve all become scam spotters
A mum of three said that since the start of Covid-19, her family has become skilled in the art of spotting fake news and phishing scams. Her family turned scam spotting into a game – whenever they received a WhatsApp message or an email that they suspected was a scam, they’d get their detective hats on to uncover the ‘reals’ from the ‘fakes’. Take a look at the government’s advice on protecting yourself from Covid-19 scams.
Will we be able to spot scams more easily? With more time spent online a lot of us will become experienced in how to spot fake news and online scams. However, these things can get more sophisticated in the blink of an eye so be sure to be vigilant and don’t ever give personal information or passwords over email.
This doesn’t mean that everything is rosy. Many news stories cover studies showing the impact technology is having on our wellbeing and safety. We’d encourage any parents who are concerned about issues such as online grooming and bullying to visit Internet Matters or the NSPCC for further information and advice.
If you’d like to explore what positives can be taken away from this experience, sit down with your family and talk about what you want your digital legacy to look like after Covid-19. What seems to have worked well? What have been your biggest challenges? What do you want to keep doing moving forwards?
Here are our three top tips on digital parenting during lockdown, and beyond.
Chat to other parents to find out what’s working for them, and remind yourself that the challenges you’re up against are completely normal.
Adapt the rules if you need to. If you want a refresher on the best ways to set boundaries in the home check out Vodafone’s Digital Family Pledge for support.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. No family feels like they have lockdown absolutely nailed. This pandemic has been an incredibly stressful time for parents and if boundaries are stretched, or rules broken, remember it’s completely normal in such extreme circumstances.
Digital Awareness UK is a leading digital wellbeing organisation working with schools and organisations in the UK and internationally.