Australians have a reputation around the world as early adopters of new technology. When I moved to Sydney from Canada around 1995, I was surprised to see how many people used mobile phones. At the time, in Canada the most common method of being contactable while on the move was still pagers. I rarely saw Canadians with mobile phones.
Australian kids are carrying on the tradition. A study, AU Kids Online, authored by Professor Lelia Green, Professor John Hartley and Professor Catharine Lumby from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI), found that Australian children are among the youngest and most prolific users of the internet in the world. The study was carried out in parallel with a 25 nation survey in Europe and compared the experience of Australian children aged 9-16 to those of their European counterparts.
When children use smart phones, tablets and computers prior to bedtime, they can struggle to sleep, leaving them tired the next day. Having devices in their room can also wake them from their sleep if not turned off. The other very valid concern many parents have is that of cyber bullying and online predators. These types of malicious acts often take place late into the night and at the very least can frighten or worse do real harm. If there is one place our kids should feel safe and secure, it is their bedroom. Research by Kim M. Robinson and Rachel Buchanan at the University of Newcastle Australia, reveals that 20-40% of school-aged children are affected by inadequate sleep. Everything from poor performance in school to health concerns like obesity, lack of sleep and lack of energy have all been cited as growing trends among kids who have access to their devices in their room at night. As I’ve experienced with my own kids, this lack of sleep can lead to emotional and behavioural problems at home and at school. While the amount of sleep your kid needs to be their normal selves may vary, the recommended guide for primary school kids is 10-12 hours per day, dropping to 8-10 hours for high school. So, what can you do to help your kids get enough sleep each night? Taking technology out of their bedrooms has certainly helped my wife and I create the right environment to encourage a good night’s sleep. Over the years, through trial and error, we have worked with our kids to help them understand the need to establish rules around the use of smart phones, tablets, and computers. Here are the rules that work for us today:
For us, having clear rules and a regular routine has made dealing with technology easier on everyone in the family. Everyone knows what is expected and understands why the rules are in place. As a parent with three kids, aged 9, 11 and 14, it’s also been important that we apply the rules consistently with all our kids. On occasion, we have tried to vary the rules for one of our kids and found we had to deal with the ‘That’s not fair! Why can <kid> do that and I can’t?’ question from our other kids. One final comment on the fairness argument; be prepared for the ‘Dad, why are we not allowed to have devices in our room, but you sleep with your phone next to your head?’ question. Be prepared to practise what you preach!
MEDIA RELEASE: AUSSIE KIDS ‘EARLIEST INTERNET USERS’ | CCI. 2015. MEDIA RELEASE: AUSSIE KIDS ‘EARLIEST INTERNET USERS’ | CCI. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.cci.edu.au/about/media/media-release-aussie-kids-%E2%80%98earliest-internet-users%E2%80%99. [Accessed 03 December 2015].
Wired and tired: why parents should take technology out of their kid’s bedroom. 2015. Wired and tired: why parents should take technology out of their kid’s bedroom. [ONLINE] Available at:http://theconversation.com/wired-and-tired-why-parents-should-take-technology-out-of-their-kids-bedroom-50406. [Accessed 03 December 2015].
Tech in the Bedroom an Absolute NO for Kids, Experts Say – OurPact. 2015. Tech in the Bedroom an Absolute NO for Kids, Experts Say – OurPact. [ONLINE] Available at: http://ourpact.com/tech-in-the-bedroom-an-absolute-no-for-kids-experts-say/. [Accessed 03 December 2015].