DIgital Nutrition is on Instagram. I post a range of memes, infographics and visual commentary on digital culture, habits, technology life and developments. Scroll along at www.instragram.com/diginutrition
I love twitter and the professional sharing that happens in the online space -- so I was very excited to be invited to create an AussieEd chat. It was a whirlwind hour -- I had (luckily) used the TweetDeck to plan and schedule the questions and responses, in order to maximise the resources and links I could share in such an intense time frame (I got 30K Tweet impressions!).
DIgital Nutrition is a particular concept for considering Digital Health and Wellbeing, which itself sits inside the model of Digital Citizenship that you see above. While we have a range of programs and resources which relate to the embedded concepts of cybersafety and cyberbullying, few #DigCit resources deal with the issues relating to developing healthy digital habits and preventing 'problematic internet use' (the preferred term for the colloquial concept of 'Internet Addiction').
// Here is a roundup of the questions and some of my responses. To read the complete chat simply head here to read the Storify archive.
// Responses to Q1
While 'Digital Wellbeing' doesnt have an official definition, we can think about it from the models of wellbeing that we have a sense of from an offline perspective.
In terms of resources to support Digital Wellbeing, in my experience, few resources look specifically at helping people (of any age) avoid developing problematic internet use (PIU). Programs generally tend to target parents, and digital parenting. For example Dr Kristy Goodwin's Every Chance to Learn site.
// Responses to Q2
// Responses to Q3
NB: ‘Good role modelling’ is not a valid response!
// Responses to Q4
//Responses to Q5
// Responses to Q6
Screen Based Media Use and Small Humans:tips for parents in a digitally saturated, ‘on demand’ world.
4 key areas to consider when raising digitally savvy, ethical and healthy kids.
// 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. <<
Want to have a healthier, more considered relationship with technology?
Keep these three principles in mind and apply them to your online activities, ask yourself these questions.
// MINDFUL //
Mindful in that you are present to your actions, you have moment- to-moment awareness of, and responsibility over your activities online and how these impact not just other aspects of your life but other people too.
Being mindful means you'd benefit from pausing, and thinking more broadly about how what you do, say, click on and scroll through impacts your overall health and wellbeing (one swipe at a time).
Questions to ask yourself: How do I feel in my mind and body before I go online? What am I truly seeking when I go online? How does being online change my feelings or physical sensations? How can I get better at 'reading' and 'listening' to these cues? How can I remain focused and present while online?
// MEANINGFUL //
Meaningful in that you have a sense of purpose and clarity in regard to what you’re reading, commenting on or participating in. That the activities contribute, even in a small way, to your goals and values.
When you have clarity with your values, and live aligned to them you have a greater sense of purpose - which in turn contributes in a more meaningful and effective way to you being the person you want to be (both online and IRL, in real life).
Questions to ask yourself: How is what I am viewing/reading relevant to or aligned to my goals? How does this action/activity contribute in a positive way to my life and overall sense of wellness?
// MODERATE //
Moderate in that you’re able to regulate and temper your habits and usage, and avoid negative impacts across other aspects of your life.
Moderation means that you both use technology in moderated amounts of time, but also are able to moderate what you say and how you react to things that show up in your online world. The activities are balanced and like in Goldilocks done in amounts that are ‘just right’!
Questions to ask yourself: How can I tell if I am over-reacting to a situation online? What would happen if I did not respond to that tweet/comment/post/message? What strategies or digital hacks can I use to mediate my time online and ensure I dont 'overdose'? How can I remember to pause and think before I post? How do I notice when it's time to logoff/take a break?
This is a foundation for the Playshop for Millennials - which is a 90 minute event you can invite Jocelyn to present to any audience (but regular internet and social media users will get the most benefit).
Got a suggestion, comment or response? Email me!
Over the last 18 months I've written quite a bit about our technological habits, both on my own blog and for a range of publications (as well as commenting for about 23 articles, being on TV 3 times, doing 12 radio interviews and consulting to a range of organisations!).
Here are links to all the titles in one easy to click place:
You can read the full version of my study tour report, my learning and insights here.
Do you find yourself mindlessly grabbing for your phone? Are you seeking something, unsure of what? Do you scroll through your social media feeds without really paying attention? Are you yearning for something a bit more deep and meaningful but cant find it?
Try these screensavers. When you go to your phone these might help you check in with yourself and be more present to your actions and intentions. Tune in to how you're feeling, and be present to that, get comfortable being alone with yourself and not distracting yourself from the nuances of your internal world with external fluff and white noise.
The use of drug analogies in the conversation about people (especially young ones) and technology needs to stop.
Technology is not a drug, it’s a tool. What we do with the tool, is the most important question.
If anything, digital devices are a syringe. They are a delivery system. Syringes can be used to deliver a vaccination, or insulin or an illegal intravenous drug. Digital devices deliver the applications, the games and the information which we consume mentally.
Like with food and the adage of ‘you are what you eat’, increasingly we are what we consume through digital devices. It is your choice what you consume, or what you let your kids consume.
We need to educate ourselves about the inherent values and therefore impacts within our online activities and what we are delivering to our brains and to the brains of small humans.
We need to think about our online activities as having inherent nutritional values, just like food, and consider the kinds of vitamins, minerals and calorie content of our digital habits. There are junk foods and there are superfoods within the online world. We need to be sensible with our ‘digital diets’, to avoid overdosing and the necessity for ‘digital detoxes’. The alternative is ‘Digital Nutrition’.
Just like with diets and food nutrition we would benefit from considering how we can create digital lifestyles which support our whole wellbeing. There are occasions which we might indulge in some mental candy, we might need to use technology to relax and unwind – but when we use it to cope in a way which distracts us from dealing with the issue, problems arise.
Using the word addiction in this conversation stigmatises technology users and the challenges facing parents and educators to effectively integrate technology into both leisure and learning in a balanced way that is tailored to the needs of individuals.
Labelling a generation of kids as addicted to screens and stereotyping them invariably as rude, disrespectful, disconnected and mute is both mean and myopic.
Ignoring the fact that adults are responsible for technology being in their hands is parochial. The issue here is that kids appear to enjoy and engage with technology more than their parents. Adults generally have forgotten how to be curious and playful and haven’t thought to ask why. The nuances of online worlds escape most ‘digital xenophobes’ (those who fear technology because they don’t understand it).
What we need are forward thinking solutions, all of the qualities that the #EdTech movement espouses as the skills of 21st Century Learners we need to apply now to the expected challenges of the sudden ubiquity of technology.
Technology addiction headlines are clickbait, designed to disempower parents and grandparents from exploring a deeper understanding of the nuances and complexities of our tech-saturated world. What we need to ask ourselves is, are you going to be a part of the problem of a part of the solution? Digital Nutrition is about the solutions.
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Here’s a song to go with this blog: Jurassic Five’s Contribution
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Jocelyn Brewer is a psychologist based in Sydney, Australia. She works in schools with young people and has done so since 2002. She created Digital Nutrition and gave a TEDx talk on it in May 2015. Google her name, you’ll find out more.
I am not exaggerating - this is some of the best training I have done (possibly since ACT training with Russ Harris several years ago). Ok, so maybe it's the prestige of the Beck Institute and the fact that I know Dr Aaron T Beck is going to make a guest appearance, or maybe it's just such a clearly elucidated model that it just makes sense - it was a very engaging 3 days.
I don't think of myself as a CBT psychologist, I use it's principles, but I don't think I pride myself on my CBT skills or association with the model. Given that I had spent 2.5 days at the glorious Eastover Estate doing ACT training, I thought I would be all trained out - but nope. I paid more attention to our lovely, funny and highly accomplished trainer Dr Torrey Creed than I have to any other training in aaaages.
This was three days of Advanced CBT for Children and Adolescents - so it was delving much deeper than the basics
I didn’t quite make my 5pm flight from San Francisco (that’s not to say I ‘missed’ it!) to Chicago and instead was on a read eye flight arriving at 7am the day of the conference. Needless to say I was somewhat bleary eyed and running late for the first day of the International Conference on Education (which I later discovered is hosted by Concept Schools, a charter school). It was truly an international conference, with not only a large contingent presenting from Tasmania, but also India and all over the US.
The program featured a range of streams and sessions, the one I was particularly interested in was 'Effective (and Ineffective) Use of Educational Technology' - which perfectly highlights one of the issues that I think is at play with kids and technology, that is the simple fact that any teachers are still trying to work out how to use technology in the best way possible - without over reliance, but also with purpose and relevance to the skills kids will need in a decade.
Meeting with Dr Erin Mason – SCOPE4SC
Meeting with Dr Devorah Heitner – Raising Digital Natives
Meeting with Dr Suzanna Flores author of Facehooked