Learning how to balance and navigate the digital world together as a family.
Non-Negotiable, Device Free Meals
There are certain times in the day where nothing is more important than real-life face time- that’s right- a genuine interaction between two humans without the interruption of a device. Family dinner time is one of the device free times I encourage the most, but other meal times work great too. Do your best to tuck all devices away and spend this valuable time together off-grid connecting as a family unit. It is very important to maximize those moments together away from personal devices.
Parents should set guidelines and parameters for personal device use that allow kids to establish a positive and healthy pattern of behavior online. Parameters might include time limits, parental controls, approval of digital tools and applications, and random and purposeful content screening. Devices should always be utilized in a transparent way where personal screens are visible and accessible to parents on a frequent and regular basis.
Ongoing and Open Conversations
Create a safe environment in which both parents and children feel comfortable discussing the positives and negatives of online content and materials. Children should feel that a parent is accessible and available to confide in if there is ever an online situation where they feel vulnerable, uncomfortable, or at risk. Open dialogue, without fear of consequence, is important between parent and child when navigating the complexities of the digital world. You can never have too many conversations when it comes to online safety and content exposure.
Explore Content Together
Spend some time exploring and enjoying age appropriate content together. Perhaps watch a popular new TV series together or the latest animation blockbuster? Learn what content different platforms have to offer and what the best way to access this content is. Families should model navigating new content together and make agreements on what online content is okay to view and what is not. Why not even bookmark your preferred sites or agree on a download to prepare for a future family movie night?
Just like our bodies, devices deserve to have some much needed rest too. Designate a spot in your house to place both parent and child personal devices at night to ensure sleep and down time is both restful and interrupted. Devices in bedrooms are just too tempting to pick up and continue to use. Continual notifications and prolonged screen time at night are harmful to the emotional well-being, cognitive performance, and behaviour regulation of all humans.