Simone Gindidis – Psychologist at Northern Centre for Child Development
As a psychologist, I particularly enjoy using technology such as apps with evidence-based counselling techniques, parenting support, and for clinical assessment.
One question frequently asked by parents relates to screen time recomendations. This comes as no surprise; research is increasingly showing a relationship between unhealthy technology use and symptoms of poor mental health such as anxiety and depression. It’s easy to see how parents might become overwhelmed by this information especially given there are so many different screen time suggestions available online and in the media.
So how can you help your children develop a positive relationship with technology? Australian parenting website RaisingChildren recently published a great set of recommendations that are simple, straightforward, and evidence-based. The recommendations are outlined below, together with some practical suggestions for how to make them work:
- Role model healthy screen use at home. One suggestion for this could involve making sure that no screens are used during family meals. Studies show that family dinners can have positive benefits for children such as extending their vocabulary and emotional resilience. Limiting screen time during dinner could therefore help you to connect with your children by maximising your quality time together.
- Discover your child’s technology interests. One way to make this happen could involve asking your child to teach you how to use their favourite game or app. Who knows, maybe you’re a better Fortnite player than you think!
- Encourage your child to use good-quality content. This would also be a good way to promote your own digital knowledge – learn where to find information about app quality together with your child. Questions to guide your process could include:
- What are other app users saying about this app?
- How does this game store and use our personal data?
- Have there been any studies to support this app’s claims?
- Negotiate screen time rules as a family. Think about what boundaries work for your family. Consider what message your child is receiving if the screen time rule set by the family is no televisions during dinner time and you’re still checking Instagram; while discussing boundaries don’t forget to remember the first recommendation and role model healthy use.
- Share screen time with your child. Extend on the second recommendation mentioned earlier and instead of only learning about what games or apps your child is using, attempt to share in their technology experiences. Think about starting a game or a music playlist that can be shared and regularly re-visted.
Keep us posted on how you go with setting some boundaries for your kids! And as always, get in touch if you need more specific guidelines for your family.
Simone is a registered psychologist who recently submitted her PhD in Educational and Developmental psychology. She is dedicated to helping children, adolescents and parents achieve positive learning, relationships, and wellbeing across the lifespan. A lover of technology and gaming, she developed a successful e-learning iPad program to support second language acquisition in a private language school. Her PhD research investigated how smartphone apps can be used to support adolescents in therapy. In addition to technology and all things Harry Potter, she has considerable experience working in primary and secondary school environments training teachers and parents in the use of technology to aid communication and learning. She is trained in Cross-Battery Assessment of cognitive and academic abilities and ensures a flexible, responsive approach to providing evidence-based psychological services. Simone is sensitive to cross-cultural issues; fluent in both English and Greek. She is an Associate Member of the Australian Psychological Society, and former representative on the National Committee of Educational and Developmental Psychologists. An occasional lecturer and teaching associate at Monash University in postgraduate psychology and counselling programs, Simone is passionate about marrying the latest research evidence with psychological services.