Telstra released the results of research, Cyber Safety – Balancing Screen Time Survey, undertaken to see the effect of devices being in the home and the impact on the family. The media release is below so you can read it in detail.
Over the last couple of years, I have been doing ‘Social Media and Parenting’ talks at schools, which started after speaking to parents (mostly mothers) who seemed lost navigating the digital waters and had simply thrown their hands in the air and given up – not knowing where to start.
There were so many interesting things to come out of the research and I discussed them with Shelly Gorr, Cyber Safety Manager, Chief Sustainability Office at Telstra.
Shelly made the point that the data shows that modelling is very important in every aspect of parenting and it is no different in managing device time. Basically, children do what they see their parents doing.
The stats showed the usage and behaviour is the same for parents and children;
- 66% of parents use devices in front of the television, compared with 71% of children
- 15% of parents use devices at meal time, compared with 19% of children
- 74% of children use their devices between 9pm and midnight on school nights, compared with 62% of parents
Balancing the time on devices with family time requires rules being set and followed. Rule meal times as device free and follow it – have a basket that everyone puts their devices in as they enter. This will add some ritual and ceremony to it too.
- 66% of parents & 71% of children use their devices in front of the TV
- 50% of parents & 41% of children second screen in front of the TV
‘Second screening’, having two devices on at the same time to access supplementary content or apps, is not a bad thing when watching television (in fact I think it makes the experience better!) but it may not be as good when children are doing homework!
“When children were asked about perceptions of their parents’ device usage:
- 12 % said the amount of time their parent spends on their device impacts how well they look after their family
- 9% say the amount of time their parents spend on their device takes away from their family time”
Shelly said that teenagers noticed this more than the younger children, which can mean that the younger children simply didn’t notice it.
Telstra have shared some great tips below to help parents navigate the device / digital waters, which are inline with the advice I give to parents. The most important thing to remember is that parenting has not changed, children need parents to show them and support them in any new activity, this is no different.
The analogy I like to use is a parent teaching a child to ride a bike; they hold them, teach them, support them then let them go while still watching and guiding. When it comes to devices / digital world, they seem to not apply the same teaching principles.
It is important that parents share their childrens’ device experience, as questions, look at content,
When it comes to access it is uber important that parents have all of their childrens’ password, for a couple of reasons; that they know you can see their content at any time and if their account gets hacked and inappropriate info posted – parents can log in and remove.
Shelly has a great tip for teaching children to respect the secrecy of their passwords, “When logging into my device, I say, ‘ Mummy’s putting in her secret password’, while hiding the screen.” This modelling is very positive and will help them not share their passwords. Most childrens’ accounts are hacked by their friends who have their passwords.
- 77% of parents said they had considered putting controls in place but 33% said they didn’t know what was available & didn’t want to hinder their children’s device usage in the process
Shelly advices that most ISPs and browsers have controls that allow parents to manage:
- time spent
- sites accessed
- time of the day access
Telstra also have tools:
- Last year, Johanna Baker-Dowdell and I talked about this and more in our Real Chat Google Hangout “Social Media & Parenting” which you can see here.
- Read Shelly’s post here.
TOP TIPS TO HELP BALANCE CHILDREN’S SCREEN TIME
- Agree limits
Talk to your children about the amount of digital time they’re living and then, based on what you agree is a healthy balance, set ‘switched off’ times of day. Help your children create a media use roster allocating blocks of time for homework, chores and their screen time.
- Be an offline supporter
Support and encourage your kids in activities that don’t involve a digital device. A ball game or reading a book are all great ways to show kids how they can enjoy themselves without a mobile, tablet or computer.
- Set family rules
Make sure you’re seen as a positive example. Do you want the dinner table to be a device-free zone? If so, then have everyone (including Mum and Dad) turn off their mobile phones and devices during dinner, or when taking part in family activities. Children are happier following rules if everyone in the family plays by them.
- Turn off devices before bedtime
Lack of sleep can affect alertness, concentration and memory. For a better night’s sleep try encouraging children to switch off at least one hour before bedtime. Create a charging station and charge all household devices in the one spot overnight.
- Make the most of parental controls
Many parental controls tools allow you to set time-of-day restrictions on children’s device usage. We recommend Telstra Smart Controls® for mobile devices and Telstra Online Security for your home network.
- Consider the difference between types of screen time
Not all screen time is created equal. Think about the differences between using a device for homework or creative expression versus using it for passive entertainment.
29 January 2015
SCHOOL KIDS WANT PARENTS TO BE DIGITAL ROLE MODELS
- 65% of parents say they’re not good technology role models
- 71% of children use their device in front of the television
- 19 % of children use their device at meal times
Parents of Aussie kids about to return to school may not see themselves as role models when it comes to device usage and balancing screen time, but in 2015 they’re being asked to set a better example because children copy their behaviour.
Telstra’s Cyber Safety – Balancing Screen Time Survey asked 1348 Australian parents of children aged 3-17 about their own use and their children’s use of devices. In a unique aspect, the Survey also asked 507 Australian children aged 12-17 about their own use and perceptions of their parents’ use of devices.
Sixty-five per cent of parents surveyed do not think they’re good role models when it comes to device usage, despite 50 per cent of children saying their parents are good technology role models.
Two thirds (66 per cent) of parents say they use devices in front of the television; 50 per cent ‘second screen’ between 7pm-9pm during school nights; and 15 per cent use devices during meal times. These findings were mirrored by the children surveyed with 71 per cent using devices in front of the television; 41 per cent say they second screen; and 19 per cent use their device at meal times.
When children were asked about perceptions of their parents’ device usage, 12 per cent said the amount of time their parent spends on their device impacts how well they look after their family, and a further nine per cent say the amount of time their parents spend on their device takes away from their family time.
Telstra’s Cyber Safety Manager, Shelly Gorr, said the results are a reminder to parents that they’re a key influencer on their children’s online behaviour.
“Children model their parents’ behaviour so it’s only natural for them to copy the example set by their mum or dad in relation to the way they use their device. As families prepare for the new school year, we’re encouraging parents to be mindful of the example they set and talk to children about ways they can balance their digital lives.
“So, for example, if it’s important to you that mealtimes are device-free, make sure you put your mobile away during dinner because children are happier if everyone in the family follows the rules.”
In further findings from the survey, 77 per cent of parents said they considered putting controls in place on their children’s device to manage their children’s screen time, but 33 per cent said they either did not know what strategies and technical tools were available, they did not believe they were tech-savvy enough to implement them, or did not understand the best way of managing technology without hindering their children’s device usage.
The survey also shows 74 per cent of children use their device between 9pm and midnight on school nights, with 39 per cent falling asleep while using their device. Similarly, 62 per cent of parents use their device during the same time with 17 per cent falling asleep while using their devices.
For more information about staying safe and enjoying the online world, visit Telstra’s Cyber Safety page.
About the research: This research was conducted via online survey by Maidstone Consulting and Empowered Communications on behalf of Telstra in December 2014, uniquely researching both Australian adults and children regarding their use of technology devices. One thousand, three hundred and forty eight Australian parents of children aged 3-17 and 507 Australian children aged 12-17 responded.