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I watched a brilliant episode of Q&A recently where the topic of social media and screen time surfaced. Over the years, since we began riding the wave of social media, I have often taken the time to reflect on my own use of technology and how I use social media. Which is useful in deciding boundaries for the kids and our family as a whole.

It’s a tricky ocean of ideas, platforms and devices to navigate.

I love the idea of connection, and the positive role technology can play in our lives.

The advent of Skype was a godsend when we lived overseas. Our parents could see and talk to the kids each weekend, helping to bridge the huge distance between France and Australia.

The flip side is that I see social media being used a tool for bullying, aggression and downright nasty behaviour. Typing derogatory words and sending threats, abuse and generally being a jerk is a lot easier in the comfort of your home rather than face-to-face with someone. We have even given this behaviour a cutesy name, ‘trolling’. Which conjures up an image of a fairy tale, rather than what it really is, antisocial behaviour and cowardice (check out this article in The Guardian). I can only think of a handful of people I know who behave like that face-to-face, and whilst some are praised for their bravery/ honesty, most are described as bullish and nasty.

I wonder is this quick easy access to information, and the ability to rapidly seek out and find the answer anywhere anytime going to decrease our problem solving abilities?

Are we having a detrimental impact on our ability to recall facts, describe situations and come up with ideas to solve problems? (Have a look at this article from Susan Greenfield)

The proliferation of experts telling us via byte size articles with catchy titles how to parent, eat, live, exercise, sleep is overwhelming, even suffocating. Some of my favourite websites seem to want to provoke us into arguing with each with click-bait type headlines and reigniting the same battles (junk food in our tuckshops, critiquing parenting styles, etc).

Does this all serve to distract us from learning, working through issues and focussing on the important stuff?

I try to take a balanced and informed view. As a self-professed geek, I love a good scientific article, so I read a lot to try to get different opinions and perspectives. I also observe my kids, and try to reflect on our behaviour when life is going well, and when it goes pear-shaped.

This is where I have landed.

Setting limits on screen time, social media and technology is not a ‘set and forget’. As the world changes, and my children grow and learn, so should our approach. Different families have different dynamics. Kids are individuals; I have noticed some of mine are better at controlling their use of technology than others (have a look at this article about kids and technology).

I believe one of the best things we can do as a community, as parents, partners and professionals is to discuss how we use technology in an open and non-judgemental way. Then keep talking and questioning and challenging what is going on around us.

Do you talk about technology in your house? Have you set any limits?

Enjoy xx

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