Some say that ‘ignorance is bliss’, here at Dial a nerd we have been simplifying technology for over two decades and have seen firsthand that when it comes to parenting in the digital age ‘ignorance is dangerous’.
It was a welcome relief then that just the other day into our office walked the team from Be in Touch. Their Team is made up of 3 concerned parents (one is an aspiring parent) with Legal, psychology and Marketing backgrounds.
They told us all about the dangers of digital over-use in adolescents. How it slows down the natural development of the brain and eyes of children, causes learning and concentration problems, not to mention causing the worst tantrums and disconnects in family relationships.
Now, you may think that a bunch of nerds on the receiving end of this kind of bad news would have got us all defensive because we love our gadgets and can’t imagine life without them. A nerd without a computer is unthinkable, they might as well have stolen our glasses and kicked our shins.
What was great about the presentation from Josh, Andrea and Kate from Be in touch was that they weren’t anti-tech, but rather helped us understand that we need to be careful in how we use tech and that we need to keep an eye on how our children use tech as their brains are more sensitive to the detrimental effects of over-use than we are as parents.
They simplified the digital parenting conversation by explaining the neuroscience behind how digital over-use makes it harder for our children to take normal social risks to develop vital interpersonal skills that they will need when they leave home one day.
What we have realised after chatting with Be in Touch, is that we, as parents have the right to parent, and if we don’t help our children set digital boundaries, we will be left picking up the pieces (and the laundry). They also shared their top three tips for what parents can do about these new digital dilemmas.
Firstly, they told us to remember that ‘ignorance is dangerous’ if you don’t know how much time you and your kids are spending on digital devices, you can’t control it.
If you’re an IOS user check out your screen time (https://support.apple.com/en-za/HT208982 )
If you’re an ANDRIOD user try downloading ACtionDash to check your screentime.
Second, head over to the Be in Touch Resource page and use their Downloadable Digital Age Limit Guideline (link here) to help you set some screen time boundaries for you and your kids.
Thirdly, they said that regulation is a short-term fix, whereas communication is a long-term solution. So use the BiT digital alliance conversation starter guideline (link here) to help you have your first conversation about your own families Digital Alliance.
Having a conversation about where and when digital devices are a no-go, what limits each family member agrees to and what the consequences may be if agreements are broken, help give children the boundaries they need to overcome digital over-use. If you need help with writing the Digital Alliance, don’t worry Be in Touch has a template you can use (here)
Here at Dial a Nerd we work hard to ensure that digital devices continue to work as they are intended to… and that means connected to the internet and with that, comes the need for responsible use from us as well as our children. We need to make informed digital decisions, and if we want our children to be healthy nerds, well then we better show them how it’s done.