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The one topic that comes up at just about every presentation I do (even if it is NOT the topic) – technology use

I know it. You know it. Your kids know it. Technology is the battleground for most parenting challenges these days. And it is not surprising, given the significant change in technology over the past 2 decades. While I don’t FEEL old, I certainly SOUND old when I talk to my teenage clients about technology when I was their age.

– No internet enabled phones – Nokia 3310 for the win (I once – accidentally – threw one out a second story window. It hit the floor and then someone rang me – I answered no problems! Let’s see an iPhone do that)

– Every text message was greatly rationed (25c per 160 characters)

– Using the internet meant someone else had to get off the phone

– Blazing fast internet speeds of 256kb/s (for reference: my current internet is 50mb/s – about 195x faster)

So we know what it is like to live in a pre-hyperconnected world. But our kids don’t. And we can’t expect them to. In fact, a large part of what I try to talk to parents about with technology use is that they are probably coming at it in a way that is unhelpful. And usually when I say something like this in a presentation, someone starts yelling at me (ok, that has only happened a few times).

The next few blog posts are going to unpack all these ideas a bit more but I want to start with a few key points:

– Technology is good

– When dealing with concerns regarding technology, we need to separate out what is a technology-specific problem and what is a standard child-parent problem

– We cannot share a message with kids that technology is bad while simultaneously demonstrating poor technology habits (well we can, but we shouldn’t expect them to listen)

I’ll give you an example of technology-specific versus a standard child-parent problem. Limit setting is something that all parents have had to deal with since the start of parenting. It takes on different shapes and sizes as your kids get older. But if you take something like wanting to watch youtube on the ipad, you can look at what is technology specific vs standard

– Technology-specific – social media (which includes youtube) is designed to capture and hold attention for as long as possible. This means that there is an inherent battle to try and draw attention away that is unique to technology

– Standard child-parent problem – parent setting expectations and child following them. The mechanics for HOW you do this are fundamentally similar, regardless of the battleground. Yes, there are some tech-specific options, but primarily, you are looking at how you and your child connect and communicate

Keep an eye out for the next blog post – I’m going to talk more about my take on technology, strategies for managing it, and what we can be doing as parents to role-model to our kids

Finding the juggle a bit too much and need some support? Our team of psychologists can help – get in touch with us here:

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At ConnectEd Counselling and Consultancy, we believe that all families, and the communities they belong to, benefit from a little extra care and support. Whether the problems are big or small, we want to make sure everyone has the chance to feel connected – to themselves, to others and to their community. We offer counselling services to young people and families and have immediate availability. If you need some support, get in touch here:

(Written by: Dr Matt O’Connor)

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