With extra time to relax, recoup and regenerate over the school holidays children naturally gravitate to technology to consume and play. These school holidays we are encouraging families to explore a digital balance when it comes to screen time and discover ways technology can be productively integrated into our lives. Here are the Cyber Safety Project we often get asked 'How much screen time should we allow our children'. In response we ask you to consider the type of activities your children are engaging in - are they creating or consuming? These activities are vastly different and require children to access different cognitive functions. When children CREATE, DISCOVER and SELF REGULATE with technology they make new connections, stimulate their own imagination, set goals and uncover new passions.
Shift the focus of technology use in your household these school holidays by accessing our School Holiday Digital Balance Challenge Calendar. Our Challenge Calendar suggests a new activity for everyday of the holidays designed to encourage children to uncover uses for technology and find positive and productive uses into our daily lives. Display the Challenge Calendar in your family common room and get the whole family planning ways to use technology to make, create and connect through a balance of online and offline experiences.
Fostering a safe and positive environment for digitally engaged children in the home is as simple as starting a conversation. Building an open relationship with your children to learn about the apps/platforms they are using, who they are engaging with online and how it makes them feel is crucial. Scheduling regular times to check in with your children about their digital use will make it the norm within your household and is a great place to start to understanding how your children are engaged digitally.
To help you start this conversation, we have created the Family Digital Use Guidelines Template to assist you with managing digital device use, screen time and establishing proactive measures to keep you and your children safe online:
Co-Construct your Family Digital Use Guidelines: This agreement is design to be developed by all stakeholders within the household. Empowering your children to participate in the development of your Family Digital Use Guidelines will not only provide an opportunity to build a culture of open dialogue about digital life at home, but empower your children to take ownership of this agreement.
Listen to what your children want to use technology for: Learn how each member of the family wishes to access and use technology. Valuing and including everyone's needs within your guidelines ensures this is a family set of protocol that everyone understands.
Model, Model, Model: Once your guidelines have been developed and signed by all stakeholders, display this in a space that can be seen and referenced as required. Modelling these co-constructed guidelines services two purposes; children learn positive behaviours from their parents/guardians and will ensure that they don't throw ‘the rule book’ back at you if (and when) they break the agreed guideline.
The power of NO (by why): Children will always test limits. Regularly! So being consistent with your ‘NO’ message is critical, however it is even more important for your child to understand why this limit or restriction is in place. Knowledge is power so if your child asks you for permission to access an App that you haven't heard of before, responding with “not right now, but I will look into this” will buy you time. Set a follow up time to learn more about the App or platform together before a decision is made.
Review regularly: Like any life skill such as; learning to use a sharp knive, swimming, or driving a car, we need to teach and support them over time to develop the capacity to independently succeed. This is no different in a digital setting. When children are 'of age' you can supervise and support them to learn and develop knowledge to engage in digital and online media safely. When you feel your child has established and is modelling the behaviour/expectations review the agreement.
The Cyber Safety Project recommends including the following items in your Family Digital Use Guidelines:
No screens in children's bedrooms
Devices are charged in common areas of the home
Set screen time limits for home, car and when out and about
Enforce Social Media age restrictions (ie. 13 year and older for Snapchat and Instagram)
Rules are rules - adults to model and follow these too!
Download The Cyber Safety Project's free Family Digital Agreement by clicking here.
Managing SOCIAL MEDIA USE AT HOME
Sam's Social Networking
Use the Cyber Safety Project's SNAPMYFACETUBE mock social networking page as a discussion stimulus for you and your children. Explore the 'About' and 'Posts' sections and highlight the information that Sam is sharing on his public profile. Question: What should Sam CONTINE, START and STOP doing in his online profile? Resource:https://www.whatistheinternet.com.au/social-networking.html