School has been back for over a month. Homework and sport commitments have started. Assignments are rolling in. It’s often this time of the year we start to reflect on routines and expectations, especially when it comes to our children. Is my child getting enough exercise and sleep? Is he studying enough? Is she overusing technology and always glued to her phone or tablet? How do I ensure my child is living a balanced life when technology is embedded in our everyday lives?
It is no secret that technology is changing, and has changed, the way that we live. We rely on it to communicate, play, pay bills and work. We even use it in our schools to aid learning. Educational settings are adorned with Interactive White Boards, laptops, tablets and computers. Some schools participate in the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program use web-based learning platforms to set tasks and encourage self-directed learning and virtual interaction between students and teachers. Technology in educational settings allows for greater global connection, instant access to information and prepares students for their ever-changing digital future. There is no denying this fact.
Although technology usage in schools certainly has massive benefits, there are many concerns about the detrimental effects technology can have on children. Childhood obesity, the degradation of social skills and shift in family dynamics, bullying and accessing inappropriate content are all serious and valid fears held by parents and experts in this field. It is imperative that we remain vigilant and considered when allowing children to use of technology and set boundaries and rules for usage that are reasonable. Schools already have these policies in place.
What is reasonable, you ask? Well, it is not just about minimising the time spent using technology but rather what that time is spent doing. You need to ask yourself if the digital interaction adding value to your child’s life in some way. If the answer to that question is yes, then it is most likely an activity that would sit comfortably within the ’acceptable’ parameters for your family. If technology usage is causing changes in behaviour, lack of adequate rest and physical activity or impacting on your ‘real-life’ interactions then it is probably something that needs to be reviewed and clear guidelines put in place. If you are concerned about your child’s safety online, check out www.esafety.gov.au for some helpful tips and resources.
As featured in: Glenmore Gazette, Emu + Leonay Gazette, Jordan Springs Gazette - March '18
Sara Drebber is an educational consultant, teacher, writer and mother of three.