Technology can provide many benefits for your family, from entertainment to keeping in touch with family members and learning about the world we live in. But as with anything, it’s better when enjoyed in moderation and with a clear understanding of the rules and boundaries. Here’s how to help your entire family stay healthier and happier, both online and offline.
It can be really frustrating to feel as though everyone in the family is spending too much time on their devices. Perhaps you’re guilty of being glued to your phone checking work emails after hours, or you worry that your child isn’t getting enough sleep as they stay up late playing computer games. Maybe you feel like you’ve lost track of what your child is even getting up to online.
Thankfully, limiting the time spent with technology and finding a better balance isn’t so difficult. From setting appropriate boundaries to finding ways to engage with your child’s online world, these six steps can help improve communication between everyone in the family and hopefully avoid any tech-related family squabbles.
Manage screen time
Battles over screen time can be a tricky part of family life, but they don’t need to be. What children are doing on their devices is far more important than the amount of time they’re spending. So make sure they’re watching, playing and reading good quality, educational and age-appropriate content rather than worrying about setting strict quotas. That said, if you notice your child’s schoolwork, sleep, mood or health being affected, then it’s time to talk about it and revisit the rules.
Agree the right boundaries
Whether agreeing on the age they’re allowed to use social media, setting out how long they can spend gaming or implementing a curfew to avoid disturbing sleep, applying clear boundaries will make your child feel more secure about your expectations and more confident about what is and isn’t OK.
Don’t just ‘pull the plug’
Emerging from the immersive world of video gaming is like a deep-sea diver coming back up for air – do it too quickly and it can have a negative effect. Give your child reasonable warnings about when to turn off to help them ease out of their game, private chat or video.
Keep talking to each other
Around 60% of children say their parents don’t discuss issues around digital life. It’s important to maintain an open and honest dialogue with your child, whether this is face-to-face or over text. You may not have every solution to hand but speaking about any issues as they arise is an important first step.
Engage in their world
In order to understand your child’s online world and spot if something is going wrong, it’s vital to know what they are doing. So, take a healthy interest and remember to regularly ask your child about their favourite vlogger, game or activity, for example. Some of these activities are ideal to do as a family!
‘Switch off’ at bedtime
Making sure your family gets the right amount of sleep is crucial to a healthy and happy life. Remove the temptation of looking at devices at bedtime and improve everyone’s sleep quality by making sure phones and other devices are not charging bedside at night. It’s an easy step that can make a huge difference.
You can read more advice on setting sensible screen time for children here
This article is by Parent Zone, the experts in digital life.