Does technology limit our imagination

How to talk to kids about wellbeing and technology

Internet Matters experts provide practical advice and tips on child and teen wellbeing and the impact of technology when it does.

What advice can you give me about my child who is socializing online but also seeing things that can make them upset?

How best to support a child or young person who sees things online that make them very upset depends on the age and stage of the child.

For younger children, parents and carers can choose to sit with their child throughout the video call or at least in close proximity so that they can react to events in real time. With older children, it is still useful to be around, perhaps if the conversation is taking place in a family room, but with unobtrusive supervision.

It is worth having a conversation before a video call or participating in live chat during a game to examine the risks involved, how they feel and how best to react.
Children and adolescents should be reminded that they can share their experiences with their parents or carers with the problems they encounter without judgment and that they will be supported in finding a solution.

What is the "new normal" for children and teenagers who are online / interacting with others?

Many parents and caregivers will have changed their schedules and boundaries around their children with the help of screens and phones.

Perhaps it is more helpful to view this period as "normal for now" rather than view it as the "new normal" while families balance work and home study.

The impact of not being able to get in touch with large family and friends in person is a real threat to our overall wellbeing. This requires flexibility in terms of screen time for now.

While aspects of blended learning may persist for at least a while as physical limitations wear off, it is useful to rethink with young people the boundaries that existed before the lockdown and why and how they were put in place.

It is also a useful way for young people to reflect on the impact technology has on their lives and how they believe it will be of greatest value to them in the future.

What does normal actually mean and why is this expression used now about our lives in the "new normal"?

Well, brains like predictability for a number of reasons. The first reason is that they are lazy and focus on the things that are important like the new / novel because these are the things that can pose a threat to me (the brain / body) from the person ).
For example, have you ever moved something in the closets only to find that you have automatically returned to the closet it used to be in? Or maybe moved the coffee table to go in the next day? How many times did you go to the coffee table after that? Probably not many, because the brain is quick to remember dangers. Whenever I keep moving the coffee table you always need to pay attention to where it is and change your behavior accordingly.

This is your new normal. You are now concentrating on the danger in front of you before you can feel comfortable in your automatic movement through the room.
This is currently where we are in terms of “lockdown” (which sounds like a jail sentence, doesn't it?) And the return to the “new normal” (equivalent to automatic behavior).

Children will continue to use the strategy to deal with their emotions that previously worked. However, sometimes it takes time to adjust. It is normal. Here I use stories like the one above to acknowledge that life is changing and so it has to be their new way of being and it's okay sometimes not to see "where the table has been moved?"

As a parent having a conversation with your child that you also adapt, learning and doing your best can be the regulators to realize that it is okay not to know, too. Imagine wearing a blindfold in the story above too!
(Use this metaphor story on children 6/7 years old and see what they suggest. Your answers are always amazing, and you can learn from them too.)

How can technical assistance, or in some cases, affect the wellbeing of young people?

Video games, like all media, are not good or bad in and of themselves. How helpful or how cumbersome they are depends on the context in which someone is playing them.
Video games create a virtual space in which we can play, connect with other people and challenge our intellects, reactions and imaginations. These are rooms that tell stories, invite us to adventure or take part in competitions.

This means that video games can provide significant well-being benefits to children. Many games offer space to talk about important topics or to address difficult topics directly.

Over the past few months I've seen children in the families I work with find calm, control, and connectedness in the games they played. Especially in online games where they can keep in touch with friends.
To capture these experiences that are hard to find for non-gamers, I've made a few lists for parents and caregivers:

My teen has been spending too much time playing games since being banned. Should I be worried?

While falling in love with a new hobby can be worrying, measuring our concerns by how much time they spend on their screen does not help. While children and teenagers need a balance between different activities, we don't need to worry if a child is doing schoolwork, eating with the family, and participating in outdoor activities, even after long hours of playing video games.

The danger of this blanket worry about screen time is that we forget to engage in the actual activity that our child is enjoying. If we spend time watching a child play instead of flying in the helicopter when it is time to stop, we can see what they are doing. We can then direct your game from an informed position.

When you add video games we play together (where a child connects with friends and talks to friends) to online playtime, you can ensure they are anchored as a healthy part of family life. This allows teenagers to speak more openly when they find their game is getting too overwhelming or when things that happen in their games unsettle them.

Along with some lists of games I've made Resources for Families B. and the PEGI Reviews provide great information on setting limits and controls for game hardware. Doing this with your teen is a great way to immerse yourself in their hobby and agree on healthy boundaries.

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