Psychologists Drs Michelle Cutler and Emily Arnstein from Michelle Cutler and Associates joined us at our Brown Bag Chat for parents of children of all ages. Here is my summary of 5 Takeaways, as described by Drs Cutler and Arnstein, to help parents work together with their children to create and maintain a healthy environment surrounded by technology and social media.
1. It is normal for parents to have fears and anxiety about how to guide our children as we help them navigate the spectrum of benefits and concerns about the use of technology.
We know that there are benefits to our children and to ourselves about learning from the digital world. However, as Dr Cutler and Dr Arnstein said, “we do what we can to make sure our kids don’t miss out on the other crucial skills that the rest of the world teaches us”. We need to foster time for children to use their imagination and learn about empathy and social connections. We need to strive towards achieving a balance between technology/screen time and the “other work of childhood…play”.
2. We can make a difference. The parent -child relationship is the most influential relationship. We need to “set the stage” so our children will discuss their concerns with us. Our children learn from what they see and hear us doing. We need to be role models for social communication and making connections. It is hard to learn about empathy and reading social cues from text message conversations.
3. We need to mentor rather than just monitor. We can act proactively to help our children navigate challenges related to technology and social media. Help your children understand that we all make mistakes and they should not be afraid to come to their parents with concerns and questions.
4. Establish limits, routines and guidelines around use of technology. Work together to figure out what is best for your family. These limits are “on a continuum” and will change, as your children get older. “As your children grow, they need opportunities to learn to manage new challenges”.
5. You are not alone. Recognize when your family needs additional help. Understand the value of a respectful relationship with your children that can be a “foundation to guide them”. Understand what your resources are, and talk to other parents about how they manage their family’s issues. Seek out counseling and professional help if you think your child is being “affected by technology in and unsafe or unhealthy way”.
A few more tips: