// CREATE BALANCE AND MAINTAIN VARIETY
Technology is an excellent tool. We can use it in many ways to maximise productivity and help us to learn, communicate and connect. Videogames when played in moderation and at developmentally appropriate levels can help develop a range of executive functions that are useful for social, emotional and cognitive development – however playing for long periods of time, alone and to the exclusion of other activities can cause problems for young people.
It’s important to develop and maintain offline activities and interests, especially in younger kids who need a range of rich physical experiences to help with brain development. Being able to run, jump, climb and explore create opportunities for the brain and body to create neural connections which feed into the development of skills like working memory and help build confidence.
Playing games on sand and being water confident can not be taught on apps and in games alone. Young people benefit from experiencing a range of activities and trying out new skills. A dose of ‘boredom’ also doesn’t hurt – its one of young people’s biggest complaints, mostly because there is such a hunger for complex sensory inputs, yet boredom can be a gateway to creativity and self-directed youth-centred fun!
// PARENT WITH PRESENCE
Parents are powerful role models. When parents have one eye on a screen and one eye on another activity, young people are watching and may learn to mimic these habits. While many parents need to be super-powered multi-taskers to get through their busy days, its important that kids feel at certain times (like at their sports games, over dinner, when hearing about their day) that their parents give them full attention.
By role modelling key skills like clear communication, emotion regulation and balanced tech habits, parents are giving their children important cues on expectations and values.
// PLAY ONLINE TOGETHER
Many parents say they don’t understand aspects of using technology that young people intuitively learn by trial and error. Parents benefit from taking responsibility and interest in learning how to use technology effectively – and can co-opt their kids into being their teachers.
When you use technology together, playing games or setting up activities etc there is an opportunity for sharing, communicating and empowering kids to demonstrate their skills and knowledge. It helps legitimise their online worlds and passions for games and activities and parents to ‘get’ why kids sometimes find it so hard to leave a game!
// DON’T FORGET TO TALK
Communication can help solve some of the most tricky problems humans face in relationships. Creating rich opportunities for conversation and communicating ideas and sharing experiences is an important way for parents to build connection with kids and have the rapport that might be needed in the teenage years when the need for parental guidance and help seeking is really important.
This might be asking more descriptive questions about kids experiences, how they felt, what they’re excited about, what they hope to achieve next time they play etc. The more young people are nurtured to reflect on experiences and express their ideas, the more of a positive habit it will become.
>> Got ideas, tips or questions on how to juggle the demands of 21st century parenting and healthy technology habits? Email me, tweet me or comment below. <<