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Scrolling with greater intention for better screentime habits
As our kids grow to spend increasing amounts of time tethered to a digital device, we want to be sure that the time they are online, is time well spent. As parents we are often concerned about the connections they may be making and the effect of those friends and followers on their wellbeing. We worry about the content they may be consuming, and how helpful, relevant and safe that is for them. Then the time spent online, scrolling, searching and swiping, may well be time better spent on other pursuits.
Obviously, the devices won’t be going anywhere fast. So we need to look at how we can remain in control of our screen use, and ensure the time we are investing online is adding something helpful, positive and meaningful to our lives.
Here are a few tips to help us all be more intentional with our scrolling. And being more mindful of how we spend our time on devices, is certainly not just reserved for young people.
1. Encourage creation not just consumption
When we are spending time making things, creating our own videos, editing photos, writing blogs, coding a video game or composing a song in garageband, we are ensuring that we are getting something tangible in return for the time spent on screens. We are achieving and creating something, rather than simply consuming the content made by others. So encourage and nurture all the many ways the technology can allow us to make, imagine, build and design.
2. Look at who you are following
What is the real purpose of the people on your feeds? Are you following celebrities you can never relate to, companies you would never buy from, people who bring you down rather than teach you or inspire you or make you feel connected? If your child has a passion for something, help them find those people to follow. If they love space, search for NASA and related accounts. If they love photography, help them find great photographers sharing their work online. When we are following people that teach, inspire and ignite our passions, we are less likely to get caught up in those that zap our time and our emotional energy.
3. Do a digital declutter
We all have so many apps on our devices and many are just clutter that we used once and no longer visit or don’t add anything constructive to our day. Maybe you could try deleting all the apps on your phone and only put those back that you need to make your day easier, or that offer you something positive. This forces us to look at the real benefits, or not, of the apps and thus the time we are spending online. Could there be better games for your kids to play? Are there better videos for them to watch than the ones that the YouTubes algorithm believes they want to see?
4. Role model good practices
Most kids learn much more from what they see and experience, rather than from what they are told. So be sure as parents you are being intentional with your own screen time. Are you following people that support you, challenge you in helpful ways or inspire and lift you up? Are you interacting in ways that are positive? Are you giving people your attention and not continuing to scroll whilst others are talking to you? Are you able to put the devices away in order to fit all the other important things into your day?
Setting our kids up with some good, positive healthy habits when it comes to how they spend their time online, as soon as they start out on a device, will help make these practises the norm. If we don’t want them falling prey to the harmful and unhelpful experiences online, we need to be sure that they are focusing on the positive and helpful screen time pursuits. Be intentional with what, who and how we scroll, and we will all ensure we are getting a much greater return on our online investment.
Martine is a mother to 5 boys with a background in secondary education and a Masters in Counselling. Through her personal and professional experience with families raising children today, she recognises the important role technology plays in the social and emotional wellbeing of young people. She has a passionate interest in helping families to safely navigate the modern world of parenting in a way that offers understanding as well as practical and realistic strategies. Martine is an accredited speaker with the Office of the eSafety Commission and has presented to numerous parent groups, schools and teachers. Regular workshops with young people also ensure Martine has the most up to date information and perspective on what it means to be a child growing up today. She is available to present to your school, organisation or workplace on all things related to digital wellbeing and online safety. www.themodernparent.net