"Do as I say but not as I do" just doesn't cut it when it comes to tech.
When we talk about digital or online wellbeing, a lot of focus is put purely on the safety of our children online. While this is of course incredibly important, setting up a safe and healthy environment for the whole family around tech is a huge part of having healthy habits around technology and social media.
You might think that social media is a problem for young people and an adult's only job in this situation is to monitor what their kids are watching online, but this is only part of the solution.
Creating an open, non-judgemental environment around internet usage as well as having set rules that everyone in the family follows (with no exceptions!) is a great way to do this. Here are some ways to get started.
Be realistic in your expectations.
If you have teens in your house, mobile phones are more than likely a big part of their world. Although back in your day it wasn't the case and you may feel like it was better that way, that isn't really relevant now as your kids have no idea what it's like to not have them. Online lives are an important and integral part of most of wider life for most of us these days Therefore, instead of simply being irritated by your child texting all the time, try to accept that this is an important part of your child's life right now. From there, you can set realistic expectations around technology usage in the home - expectations that you can follow too.
Set tech-free times that you all follow.
Whether it's at the dinner table or after a certain time at night, the best way to encourage your child to do something is to set a good example. Now that you have set realistic expectations for your family, save yourself the "it's not fair!" arguments when you ask for them to put their phone away by leaving your phone in a different room and making a point of not accepting personal or work calls during your designated family time. This will show that you don't expect them to give up something that you wouldn't. Also take the time to remind them that you understand that their device is important to them and they can have it back after dinner. Common Sense Media and Will Ferrell have some fantastic examples of what not to do in their Device Free Dinner series!
Check in with yourself.
When you're on your phone in the evenings or scrolling through social media, ask yourself if you're currently displaying behaviours that you want your kids to have. This isn't to suggest that your children's tech usage is solely your fault, but constantly checking in and reevaluating your priorities around tech usage will allow you to set a better example in your home. After all, technology is constantly changing, and the best way to stay on top of it is to check in with yourself as well as your kids. Practice what you preach!
This content has been checked and certified by Cyber Safe Ireland whose mission is to empower children, parents and teachers to navigate the online world in a stronger, smarter and safer way.
For more, check out FamilyFriendlyHQ's Online Wellbeing Family Guide.