Do as iSay, not as iDo
ADELAIDE, SA, February 13, 2013 – Parents admit they can sometimes be poor role models for their children when it comes to technology and are now determined to kick bad habits. Parent Wellbeing director Jodie Benveniste said many parents now realise they need to place regulations on their own technology use, as well as their children’s.
“Our kids aren’t always listening to us but they are watching us,’’ the psychologist and parenting author said. “Screens are a significant player in modern-day life and they are increasingly becoming a key battleground between parents and kids. When we are good technology role models for our kids, we are better placed to guide and teach our kids responsible technology use.’’
Parents, like Emma Peterson, have understood the importance of being a good role for their kids. “I finally had my mobile phone upgraded to a smartphone recently and I fell into the habit of quickly checking emails or Facebook whenever I had a chance,” Mrs Peterson said. “After a few weeks I realised I was grabbing my phone all the time to keep up to date with what was happening in cyber land, meanwhile missing out on what was actually happening right in front of me with my two girls. They might have been playing beautifully together, having cuddles or asking me a question which I briefly answered as I was in the middle of reading something on my phone.”
Mrs Peterson said she had to set rules for herself. “I realised I had to manage my phone usage around my children and my husband. So I set up rules for myself where I would only use the phone for calls, texts and a quick check of emails when the kids are not around. I definitely do not want my girls thinking that I spend more time on my smartphone than I do playing with them.”
As parents become aware of their own actions, they now have another issue – family and friends using technology around their children. “We had my husband’s dad and sister visiting from overseas,’’ one parent said. “It seems that taking photos of our boys and immediately posting them on Facebook, and then writing and responding to comments about the photos, is more important than being in the moment and actually engaging with them. I love social media, but I can see a real downside here – reporting on your life has become more important than living it.’’
One parent suggested a solution of adults dropping phones into a basket on the kitchen bench and the first person to break the rules donating to a chosen charity.
The latest guidance suggests screen time for children should be limited to an hour a day for 2–5 year olds, two hours a day for over 5s, and is not encouraged at all for under 2s. Children also benefit from engaging in outdoor play, creative pursuits and imaginative play, says Benveniste.
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For more information or to arrange an interview contact:
Jodie Benveniste, Parent Wellbeing, email: jodie (at) parentwellbeing.com
Jodie Benveniste, director of Parent Wellbeing, is a psychologist and parenting author. She has been featured on TV, in newspapers and radio nationally and all major parenting magazines. Jodie is Affiliate Lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Adelaide, Editorial Advisor for Family Fun magazine, and mum to two young children. For more information on Parent Wellbeing, visit www.parentwellbeing.com