Daniel Donahoo (digital learning adviser): Children learn from observing the world around them, so it’s really important that parents and carers model healthy technology use.
So there’s a whole range of things that you could do. Like, one example is, when you’re playing with your child, set aside some phone-free time so that you can really be in the moment and neither you nor your child is distracted by the phone.
One aspect of modelling healthy tech use to our children that’s important is modelling consent, and we want our children, as they grow, to understand that they should ask permission to take photos and to share photos of other people, and that doesn’t have to be all the time. It just might be when we remember. If we’re taking a photo of our child, we might want to say, ‘Do you mind if I take a photo of you with that drawing so that I can send it to Grandma?’
If you are checking your phone when your child’s around, another thing that you might like to try is just let them know what you’re doing so that they don’t just think you’re looking at your phone for no reason. It’s appropriate for us to say, ‘I’m just sending an email to someone for work,’ or, ‘I’m just answering a message that your auntie sent.’
Another thing that you might like to try is that, if you’re in a conversation with your child and you get a text message, maybe wait until that conversation’s over, because responding to your phone straightaway sends a message that it’s more important to attend to the phone, and, while that mightn’t seem like an obvious message, we might be surprised at just how much we’re distracted by our technology and it’s really important that we model that to our children so they learn that technology isn’t something that should distract us from the things that are important to us on a day-to-day basis.
Finally, another thing we can do for modelling healthy tech use is to use our screens in positive ways, so make video calls with our children, connect to families, allow them to use apps that allow them to be creative, create music, make videos, or to use Google Earth to see other parts of the world. These are the types of things that give children a really good grounding in the positive ways that they can use technology.