Kid Magazine Issue Thirty

Page 34

How to ditch your techno-guilt Dr Kristy Goodwin Techno-guilt. I’ve felt it and I know many other parents do too. We feel guilty about our child’s screen-time. Are they watching too much TV? Is there time spent tapping on the tablet healthy or harmful? Shouldn’t they be building forts and not tapping on a screen? We have nostalgic memories of our analogue childhoods that were spent staring at the sky and not a screen. But our kids are experiencing ‘digitalised childhoods’, so our natural reaction is to fret about their screen-time. Raising children in the digital world is just so different from our unplugged childhood. As modern parents we have to deal with digital dilemmas that our parents never encountered (their only digital dilemma was how to manage the TV that was permanently affixed to the lounge room wall… it certainly wasn’t carried around in our mum’s handbag and we couldn’t sneak it into our bedroom at night). Our kids have become infatuated with pixels, not people sometimes and this concerns us. We worry if they’re spending too much time tapping, swiping and pinching and not enough time building, climbing and riding. We’re enduring techno-tantrums (quite different to the ‘regular’ tantrums our parents experienced) and worried about their access to dangerous content. I’m here to give to permission to ditch the techno-guilt (as parents we have enough to fret about without adding technology to the mix). Whether we love it or loathe it, technology’s here to stay. The iPad won’t disappear and the Internet won’t become 34

unplugged. As modern parents we need to show our children how to use technology in healthy and helpful ways and how to minimise the potential harmful effects (because we can derail our child’s development if we use screens excessively or inappropriately). We need to teach our children how to be masters of technology and not slaves to it (as many of us adults are!). We need to teach kids how to form healthy media habits, because they’ll inherit a digital world. When used appropriately and balanced with plenty of ‘green-time’ screen-time can help our kids. It isn’t necessarily toxic and taboo. There’s mounting research that tells us that kids can benefit from time with screens if we address, what I call, the three Bs: basic needs, boundaries and balance. Basic Needs Children have basic, unchanging developmental needs. The neuroscience and developmental research tells us that children’s basic needs must be met for their optimal development to take place. There are seven basic needs that include relationships, language, sleep, play, physical movement, nutrition and executive function skills (this includes children’s higher order thinking skills such as impulse control, working memory and mental flexibility). We have to ensure that screen-time doesn’t encroach on these basic needs. For example, we need to ensure that our digital dependence isn’t interfering with the relationships we have with our children. Are we always clutching our phone at the park, instead of interacting with our kids (I’m admitting that I do this from time to time, so this isn’t

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