Long gone are the days when a phone was just used for calling. With the growing extinction of the landline, we’re picking up our mobiles more than ever. According to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), more than 5 million adult Australians use only a mobile (and don’t have a fixed-line at home). Twenty-one percent of Australians (again, according to the ACMA) only use mobile devices for their Internet access. When it comes to kids, 86 percent of households use/allow Internet access through mobile devices, notes the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
What does this mean for your child? If you’re tethered to your smart phone, your child’s picking up tech-clues straight from you. Just like knowing that it’s polite to share or that waiting in line without a steady stream of whining is a manners must-do, your child isn’t born knowing how to use mobile technology. That leaves you as the major role model for acceptable and appropriate mobile device use.
How can you be a good mobile model for your child?
Your partner is standing in front of you talking about his day at the office. Okay, so hearing about his co-worker who’s always late for every meeting and his boss who’s always asking for work that he never assigned isn’t exactly a thrill. But, this type of person-to-person communication is key in every family. Putting the smart phone down, turning off the notifications sound and ignoring all of those emails, texts, Facebook alerts and voice mails, in favor of an actual conversation with another human being, shows your child that people should take precedence over screens.
Not only do you need to show your child when it’s acceptable to use your mobile, but you also need to model appropriate information sharing behaviors. If your child sees you accepting FB friend requests from people you’ve never met before, she may follow suit. Likewise, if she sees you entering your credit card number, phone number or any other information online, she may think it’s okay too. Of course, there are times when you (as an adult) know it’s safe to give out your private info. You’re texting your address to your child’s friend’s mum to schedule a play date, and your child sees you. Explain that you know this person, and that’s why you’re sharing. At the same time, let her know that you would never give this information to a stranger you meet online (even if the person ‘seems’ nice or friendly).
It’s almost dinnertime on a Saturday evening, and you’re still fidgeting with your phone. Why wouldn’t your child think that all-day mobile technology play is okay? You already set rules when it comes to your little one’s tech-time, so why not for yourself too? When your child sees you limit the amount of time you spend downloading apps or texting, she’s getting the message that self-control is a prime part of responsible technology use.
Scrolling through unanswered emails or texts is totally tempting while your child is busy running through the playground. But, putting the phone down and being present teaches your child about the importance of the moment. Instead of retreating to a screen, she can see that technology takes second place to family and anything else that you feel is important.
Whether you’re sitting down to a family dinner, out shopping, on a trip to the park, enjoying a lazy weekend afternoon at home or are anywhere else, you’re acting as a role model for your child. Showing acceptable use of mobile devices (through your actions) is a simple solution to tech-time issues, and gives your child the chance to learn from you – and not from ‘friends’ online.
Share your tips on how you’re a good role model for your kids in the ‘Leave a reply’ section below.