- A beneficial relationship with technology is one where there is a healthy balance between technology use (online or offline) and other hobbies, interests and activities (including exercise). For each child this balance may be different depending on their use of technology and the internet.
- The amount of screen time a child has each day can be a cause of worry for parents and carers. However, it is important to recognise that the amount of time spent on devices is not as important as the quality of the activities a child is engaged in. Activities that require communication, problem solving and creativity can be more beneficial than passive activities (such as watching TV shows online).
- Some research has suggested that technology use close to bedtime can affect good quality sleep. Some studies suggest that blue light emitted from device screens can affect sleep patterns. Other studies suggest that using technology close to bedtime or having technology in the bedroom can be too stimulating and also affect sleep. Devices that frequently send notifications could encourage a child to use their device frequently and during the night.
- There are physical symptoms related to unhealthy use of technology. These can include tired/sore eyes, headaches, back/neck pains or negative mood. Some studies have suggested that unhealthy use of technology can also be linked with unhealthy diets.
- Ask your students about the ways in which they feel technology compels them to keep using it. Topics for discussion could include notifications from apps and games encouraging further use, rewards or time limited offers or other pressures such as wanting to connect or keep up with friends or becoming obsessed with a particular game/app and wanting to use it frequently. Encourage your students to share any advice or strategies they have found useful for managing their relationships with technology.
- Talk about the differences in screen time and how activities that help develop skills are more beneficial than passive ones. Help your students to identify which activities they enjoy are the most beneficial and why. Take care to keep the conversation balanced – there is always a place for passive activities such as watching online videos; they have value and the key is to enjoy them in moderation rather than excess!
- Ask your students how they would know if their technology use was unhealthy. They might wish to consider aspects such as physical symptoms (headaches, tired eyes, sore thumbs from gaming, less sleep etc.), how they feel (mood and attitudes) as well as external cues (relationships with friends and family, ability to complete schoolwork/homework, how often they engage in non-tech related hobbies and interests). Encourage your students to consider and share any strategies that might rebalance some of these issues.
- Highlight the importance of good quality sleep in growth and development. Talk about technology use close to bedtime and challenge your students to consider ways they could ‘wind down’ before bedtime. This could include using technology positively as part of a wind down routine e.g. stopping technology activities an hour before bedtime but continuing to use a device to play calming music, or using the calendar/alarms features on a device to help keep track of how much time is left before switching off.
- Encouraging a broad range of activities, hobbies and interests is a positive way to help your students balance their time on and off technology.