With all the extra screen time that became the norm during the lockdown, are you feeling like good old-fashioned family time is a rare commodity these days? Does it seem like everyone is always huddled off somewhere, whisked away into the world of their screens?
Perhaps it is time to get everyone to take a literal and figurative deep breath. A dinner table discussion around balancing screen time against the rest of “lifetime”, is a good opportunity to introduce the idea of a Family Digital Alliance that could help adjust and reset the hours spent on screens and access to apps, games and websites that are turning out to be maybe not so good for the soul and well-being.
One of the most useful ways to bring a higher level of consciousness to how often and where we pick up our screens is to think about device No-Go Zones. Bedrooms are top of the list and the benefits of instilling this discipline amongst the whole family (yes, parents too!) are enormous. This is probably the most impactful step of any, that you can take as a savvy digital parent.
Agreeing to switch off devices at a certain time, and putting them on charge in a central charging station outside of a bedroom, helps our brains to initiate a calming or cooling off process to prepare for a good night’s sleep – so vital for all of us, but especially for young, developing brains and bodies. It helps side-step a before bed dopamine spike, which we get from checking social media, and which kills our natural feeling of tiredness.
It gives the whole family sleep uninterrupted by the interfering buzz of phone and tablet notifications. But more importantly, ensuring that devices are safely docked outside of bedrooms at night has the added advantage of removing the temptation to check in on social media, or play games, both of which are the most common sources of cyberbullying.
Although cyberbullying happens any time of the day, nighttime is known as “prime time”. We all know from experience, that the digital footprint we leave at night is always a muddier one! Tired brains are more emotional, reactive and make poor decisions, so we are more likely to say and post things online that we would think twice about in the morning. Add to this the fact that the human brain isn’t fully developed until we are in our 20’s, and so kids aren’t physiologically capable of processing certain emotions. Meaning that kids really may not understand themselves, why they’ve reacted in a certain way, or taken actions against another.
Removing electronics from your child’s bedroom at night when they are alone and most vulnerable, really is a no-brainer!
In the spirit of getting back in control, rather than being controlled by, our devices, get your family to think about other devices No Go Zones in your home. Are they welcome at mealtimes? How do you feel about time spent on devices in the bathroom, or the toilet?
Still, battling to get some enthusiasm going in your family for a family pledge? Then these awesome recently released documentaries, The Social Dilemma and Childhood 2.0 might be just what you need to put on the movie night playlist! Popcorn and smarties are a must.
Be In Touch is a passionate team of family digital wellness activists, working with schools, parents, learners, NGOs, corporates and the government. Collecting real data on what kids are doing and experiencing online (including online exposure to cyberbullying, stranger contact, pornography, violence, self-harm, drugs & alcohol), they use this to pinpoint practical and implementable solutions. They aim to simplify the complicated world of family digital wellness and online safety, with practical resources, products and solutions that parents and children need! Sign up for their newsletter and follow them on Facebook and Instagram for great tips that will help your whole family!