How to lead your family through a digital detox

Every household struggles with technology as a distraction. Here's how you can help your family form a healthy relationship with the online world.

There's no doubt about it, these days we're all guilty of the 'zombie-scroll'. It's now become part of our every day, standing at the bus stop, while we're watching TV or at our desks during the work day.

"We’ve got into these habits where we use our phone in any of those unfulfilling points in our day," says psychologist, Dr. Joanne Orlando. She believes that changing our attitudes of technology can help us begin to cut down and change habits for good.

"We need to identify technology use as quality vs non-quality. A lot of that zombie scrolling is nothing – it’s about differentiating that not all tech use is the same, and fostering a positive relationship around it," she says.

Hands-on education

Joanne says it's important to show kids the potential dangers and why they need to be cautious online.

"One of the best ways to approach this is to regularly do something with your child online that they enjoy doing. It might be playing a video game together or searching online for something that interests you both," she explains. "Enjoy the time together but also use it to explain where the risks are as you see them."

Playing an average game, you may encounter advertising, chat rooms with strangers, viruses and security risks. "Use an internet security tool such as Norton Family Premier to monitor usage while having these positive and educational experiences," she suggests.

Eliminate double standards

If you want to break the tech addiction your kids may have, you've got to practice what you preach.

"If you know you look at your phone when you’re driving and your stop at the red light, put the phone in the back seat or boot. Or when at home, keep your phone in your bedroom so you have to get up off the lounge or leave the room to get it if you want to use it," suggests Joanne. 

Establishing guidelines for the family to follow around tech are important and you've got to stay strong and enforce them, as you would for any other family rules.

Quality vs.quantity

You might already have a time limit in place for technology use in the household, but part of creating a positive relationship with technology is about knowing what it's good for and the value it can add, as well as the dangers.

"Thirty minutes spent creating artwork on a screen could be more valuable than thirty minutes spent playing a video game," says Joanne. "Aim for quality and guide your child to use technology in positive ways."

Create a positive identity 

Not only do your kids watch the way you use tech, but they also are inadvertently being affected by it from the moment they are born.

"You are creating your child’s digital identity from the time they are born - and what you post can never be taken down," says Joanne. As they grow up and move throughout their lives, they don't want to be embarrassed by their birth shots or awkward school pictures which in our day, could stay buried.

So, how can you help? "Ensure all your social media posts about your child present them in a positive way," says Joanne. "And keep posting about them to a reasonable level."

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