I would never consider myself to be an A+ parent. Maybe a solid B. Perhaps I can blame the large amount of balls I juggle from me taking out the top honours???!
In my collection of friends, there are several A+ parents. The ones who are super organised, in touch with their kids’ academic performance and run their houses like machines! (I’m secretly jealous). And of course – in their spare time – most of these parents have also added a technology contract to their repertoire!
What is a technology contract, I hear you ask? A technology or digital contract is a way of establishing boundaries around your family’s technology usage. Ideally, it should include all devices, particularly the TV! But most importantly, it should include items such as how many hours can be spent at the computer, TV or Xbox, what information can be shared online and where the phones sleep at night.
Yes, it is another job on the list but let me tell you why I think you need to invest – it’s all about your kids’ physical and mental health:
- Weight Gain
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that not moving = weight gain. But the research is compelling. In 2007, a US study compared the weight of pre-schoolers who used computers and those that didn’t. And, surprise, surprise – it was found that the computer-using kids were rounder. It appeared that 2 hours per day spent sitting in front of any device was the tipping point for weight gain.
A 2013 study from The University of Adelaide showed that over 70% of young people don’t get enough sleep on school nights due to overuse of electronic media. In fact, only a small minority were getting optimal sleep, which is more than 9 hours a night, according to the Australian National Sleep Foundation.
- Mental Health
Too much internet/technology time has also been linked to depression and anxiety. In 2010, researchers from Notre Dame University in Sydney concluded that teens who use the internet pathologically are 2.5 times more likely to develop depression than teens who are not addicted to the internet. The researchers conducted a study of 1041 random teenagers aged 13-18 from high schools throughout Guangzhou in China however these results have many lessons for parents worldwide.
Pretty compelling stuff? So, why not spend a little time and get a technology plan in place. Here are a few examples to get you started:
- The Modern Parent’s Technology Contract
- Healthy Children’s Family Technology Pledge
- SafeKids Family Safety Pledges (selection for different age groups)
Now please don’t interpret this as me ‘poo-pooing’ the internet. I love it and honestly believe it is an extraordinarily powerful learning tool for our kids. But it’s all about moderation and balance!
So, why not set aside an hour and draft something up for your family. I don’t think there is anything just as important as ensuring your kids’ health is on track, do you?
Till next time