25 August 2017
“Digital devices are not a drug. If anything, they are a syringe; The difference being: the syringe is the method of delivery. The substance you put in the syringe is the difference between a junkie and a diabetic.”- Jocelyn Brewer, Registered Psychologist and creator of www.digitalnutrition.com.au Jocelyn Brewer encourages us to focus more on the ‘nutritional content’ (type of digital use) and less on the ‘Kilojoule Intake’(time on digital device). We are no longer able to think only in terms of screen time because of the increasing reliance on technology for both school specific and other learning. While 60% of parents surveyed by the eSafety Commissioner in 2016, recognised that their child is exposed to risks of being online, 90% also identified many benefits of having access to the internet for finding information, entertainment, technology proficiency, feeling closer to friends and family, and developing problem-solving skills (2016, eSafety Commissioner).
How do we keep our children safe in this technologically progressive culture? The eSafety Commissioner has a range of resources about cybersafety and risk management techniques for parents which they can promote to their children and adolescents. Parent’s participation in consistent rule setting, support and respect is essential for promoting and maintaining a positive digital experience. We all have a role to play in ensuring our children are equipped to confidently make healthy decisions online including asking for help when they need it. In my experience as a school counsellor, some of the most valuable and preventative recommendations made by the eSafety Commissioner are:
• Educate children about positive online behaviour and encourage adolescents to think every time before they post, text or share and consider potential long-term social and legal consequences of their actions. Encourage respectful and assertive online use and avoid posting things that might be misunderstood or may upset others. • Help them keep their personal information private. Ensure your child uses strong passwords on devices and explain the importance of not sharing passwords, even with friends. • Give strategies to deal with upsetting online content, from turning off the screen, telling a trusted adult, and showing them how to block and report people. • Consider having a ‘recharge station’ in the home where all devices, including adults’ ones are placed during family activities. (https://www.esafety.gov.au/educational-resources/iparent/staying-safe/online-basics)
Ongoing education and positive role modelling of appropriate, balanced, healthy and constructive use of devices and screens empowers our young people to make the healthiest decisions when it comes to their Internet usage.