Every family has a different definition of what is 'healthy' or positive. The guide below is designed to help you apply this concept to your family’s tech habits. Together you will determine a mix of content and activities that feels right for your family.
Start by asking your children what they think are positive ways to spend time online (and why). To get them going, you can ask them about websites, apps or videos that have taught them something or helped them feel motivated, inspired or connected.
Next, ask them what they consider to be less positive activities online (and why). This is a great time to talk about certain platforms, apps and websites, but also specific things that they do on them. You may want to reflect on video content: In their opinion, what kind of videos do they feel are good uses of time and what kind aren’t?
Finally, ask your children why they think it’s important to find a balance in their digital activity. If they think they are spending a lot of time with content that isn’t right for them, brainstorm ideas for types of content that they can feel good about and help them prioritise it.
Using digital devices in a balanced way is as much about how long you spend with screens as it is about how that time is spent.
You can be a powerful force for good in helping your children create healthy habits. Consider changes that you might want to make to your own behaviour to model the habits that you want to see in your children.
Placing inflexible time limits with devices can become harder as your children get older. Try to help them become aware of their tendencies so that they can start making smart decisions for themselves.
Nick Allen, PhD
“Rather than simply talking about ‘screen time’, discuss in a more nuanced way the activities on the device – whether they are developmentally appropriate, mood enhancing and educational.”
As a family, challenge yourselves every day for a week to use technology to learn something new that you can share. Maybe it's a fact about the planet, some rare trivia on a film that you all like or an historical feature about your town. At the end of the week, talk about the things that you learned and what everyone thought was the most interesting or surprising.