E-Safety Bulletin #2

Does your family need a digital detox?

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a Digital Wellbeing conference and one of the big issues of the day was tech addiction. In a recent poll by Common Sense Media , 50% of teens say they feel addicted to their mobile device whilst 28% of those teens also believed their parents were addicted. It's a growing problem amongst all age groups with a whopping one in three UK adults - and half of 18-24 year olds - checking their phones in the middle of the night, with instant messaging and social media the most popular activities (Global Mobile Consumer Survey 2016). And it's no surprise with FOMO on the rise (Fear of Missing Out) and tech companies 'brain-hacking' your phone, apps and social media to get you hooked.

HMC (Headmasters' & Headmistresses' Conference) recently teamed up with Digital Awareness UK to gather feedback from over 5,000 pupils and parents in a bid to better understand attitudes and behaviours relating to mobile device use. The survey found that children’s biggest concern about being online is lack of sleep (47%) whilst parents’ biggest concern is the impact on their social skills (32%), followed by addiction (26%). To help families to use digital devices more responsibly, they have produced this video on digital addiction which was shown in a Senior School assembly earlier this term.

So what practical measures can you put in place to tackle this issue? Well, like many things, it's about striking a healthy balance. Technology and social media can and does improve our lives in lots of fantastic ways, we just don't need it to do this every hour of every day. A quick win is to simply swap phone alarms for an alarm clock, allowing mobile devices to be charged away from the bedroom. This will stop them being the last thing your children see at night and the first thing they look at in the morning (as well as removing temptation to check it throughout the night). During the day, apps such as ShutApp - Digital Detox allow users to set a timer to block other apps for a certain amount of time. Moment enables parents to monitor the whole family's iPhone and iPad use and enforce limits when someone - including you - is using their device too much. If you are not sure how much time, is the right amount of screen time read chapter 2 of our Digital Parenting guide.

Since it's not just young people who use are active users of technology, it is really important that parents are good role models. As leading social enterprise ParentZone advises it’s very difficult to encourage your children to cut down on the time they spend online if you are constantly updating your Facebook status or checking how your current eBay auctions are doing on your phone in front of them. Interestingly over a third of children in the HMC survey say they have asked their parents to stop checking their mobile devices whilst under 10% of parents thought their time spent on devices was actually of concern to their children. The video below gives three top tips to tame parents' device use.

Or if all else fails, why not book the family onto a digital detox retreat?

Meryem Brook
Digital Learning Support Advisor