No Self Control? There’s an App for That!

Australians are among the world’s most prolific Internet users, with young Australians becoming immersed in digital technologies from the moment they’re born. While there are some widely shared fears associated with placing screen technologies in the hands of young people, according to Professor Sonia Livingstone, “these fears are often motivated by the view that the non-digital world is more ‘real’ and thus ‘better’.”

There are indisputable benefits to having real-world interactions, but it’s not justified to view screen time as wholly bad. Screen technologies are multifunctional: a tablet can be used for reading, video-calling grandparents, and playing interactive, educationally beneficial games. What this means is that there are undeniable disadvantages to measuring device usage in terms of quantity over quality.

Of course, a legitimate concern parents have about screen time is that children are becoming so distracted by passive and menial screen activities, which impact negatively on more important screen activities, such as homework. A solution parents often resort to for this is to restrict media consumption, which can sometimes be more problematic than productive.

Rather than applying blanket restrictions, emphasis should be placed on helping children to develop healthy media habits. Historically, parents have been encouraged to rely solely on time allocations to mediate media consumption, instead of regulating the contents of that screen time. The danger of doing this is that a child with poor impulse control may not utilise their allocated screen time effectively or beneficially.

We’re all guilty of checking our smartphone notifications, scrolling through social media, or replying to chat messages during work time. This is referred to as a type of ‘continuous partial attention behaviour’, or the act of partially distributing one’s attention to multiple things at once. This type of behaviour is not conducive to productivity, and when our children participate in it while doing their homework, it can hinder their learning and information retention.

With the exam period just around the corner, it’s important to both monitor and mentor your child to ensure that they aren’t distracted when they should be studying. That being said, as many modern parents will know, monitoring screen time is its own challenge. Fortunately, there’s an app for that!

The Family Insights App provides parents with a comprehensive overview of their child’s device use including most used apps, hours spent on social media, gaming and messaging, and peak times of use. This information enables parents to have tailored conversations with their children about their media use, and to establish a study plan that is specific to that child’s individual needs.

The app also has a scheduling feature, so if your child is easily distracted by their smartphone when they should be studying, you can switch off their smartphone’s Internet access for a scheduled period of time.

Click here to learn more and claim your 30-day free trial.

Tips For Managing Screen Time Over The Exam Period:

1. Lead by example
Remember, you are the most important role models of appropriate behaviour in your child’s life. If you have unhealthy screen habits, your children may adopt them as well.  

2. Establish ground rules
When it comes to managing technology use, it’s best to establish concrete rules rather than enacting arbitrary ones. These rules will vary from household to household, but a good example is to ban or limit smartphone use during study sessions. Try breaking it up so your child doesn’t feel like they’re being punished. In fact, according to Psychology Professor, Sidney D’Mello, regular breaks are considered “very healthy behaviour… We all know there are advantages to taking a break. It’s just that if you do that too much, then you get into trouble”.

3. Communicate those ground rules to other caregivers
Nothing can undermine your authority quicker than having someone else bend your rules. If you have specific screen restrictions for your child, be sure to communicate them to other caregivers, such as grandparents or friends’ parents.

Where To Go For More Information

Devorah Heitner, 2017. Homework Solutions in the Age of Distraction

The American Academy of Pediatrics. Where we stand: Screen time

Caroline Knorr & Common Sense Media, 2015. 5 Ways to Save Yourself from Device Addiction

Top Apps Like, 2017. 13 Apps Like Self Control for Study

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