As mothers to young children and in our roles as a GP and teacher we constantly ask ourselves “how can we help our children thrive?”
When it comes to our role as parents we must not only set early limitations on technology use but importantly role model healthy technology habits ourselves.
Rules regarding technology are important as we know young people are more likely to engage in negative behaviours online if there are no rules for technology use at home.
It is important that these limitations are discussed with our children before we give them devices as enforcing rules after we notice bad habits developing is not only harder but less effective.
The most important thing we can do is listen to our children when they face problems with online relationships, acknowledge their concerns and talk about options rather than tell them what to do.
A 2014 study by Victoria Dunckley M.D. demonstrated that the brains of “Internet addicts” showed the same structural abnormalities to the brains of drug and alcohol addict. In particular, a 10-20% shrinkage in the insula of the brain, which is responsible for empathy and compassion.
The rise in a lack of empathy and compassion is worrying as we know that in order to have meaningful relationships, that are fundamental to our wellbeing, empathy and compassion are vital.
Today’s teenagers and children are set to have careers in an age of automaton and as Henry Siu, associate professor of economics at the University of British Columbia states in this article from The Atlantic last September,
“In the age of automaton we will always hold a comparative advantage in being “human” relative to machines.”
So these vital skills we are losing due to technology addiction are also those we need most to thrive in the 21st century.
The most important message we want to get across when talking to parents and educators is the importance of role-model healthy technology use every day with our own actions.
Tory Vidler and Dr Lucy Caratti GP
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