There is no such thing as perfection, especially when it comes to our screen habits.
Spending too much online, getting into arguments on Facebook or looking at our phones while people are talking to us are just some examples of screen habits that are doing you more harm than good.
We also know that kids copy much of what they see, meaning your bad screen habits can easily rub off onto your child.
This is why it’s important to teach kids good screen habits early, and one of the best ways to do this is to model these behaviours yourself so that kids can follow along.
The best part is you’ll find your own screen habits improving the more conscious you are about being a good role model for your child.
Let's have a look at some healthy screen habits when it comes to screen time, online safety and situational awareness.
Telling a child to get off the iPad while you’re scrolling through Instagram on your phone isn’t the most effective way to get kids to put their devices down.
By modelling good screen habits yourself, kids will have a better understanding of what normal and healthy screen usage looks like.
Leave your phone in another room during mealtimes. Meals are a great opportunity to catch up with your family, helping everyone form stronger bonds and develop conversation skills in the process.
Stay off your phone while playing with your child. You might also notice your interactions with your family improving as you give each other your full attention.
Replace screen time with another activity like reading or drawing. Half an hour of reading a night is a good way for kids to develop their reading skills and gives you a chance to pick up that paperback you've wanted to read for ages.
Have dedicated screen free times each day, whether that's an hour before bed or within an hour of waking up.
Another important area to model good tech habits is online safety.
Instilling online safety habits early is absolutely essential for kids now and when they get older.
Educate yourself and your child about online scams and how to identify them. Encourage kids to let you know straight away if an email or message looks suspicious.
Never post your location online. If you want to post a picture of your family at the park or beach, leave the location out or only post once you've left.
Be aware for any identifiable information hiding in pictures before posting. This includes school uniforms, house numbers, sports clubs, street signs and identifiable features on houses.
Understand how blocking and reporting functions work on the sites your child spends the most time on and make sure they know how to use these functions too.
Encourage open and honest communication if your child sees something online that upsets them.
Screen usage in the outside world is a whole different game compared to screen use at home.
With people walking around looking at their phones instead of what’s around them, the risk of serious injury is incredibly high.
Never look at a screen while walking. If you need to check a message, pull off to the side of the footpath or find a seat.
Be aware of what’s around you while walking. Watch out for cars, bikes and other pedestrians, especially around busy roads and driveways.
Never look at a screen while crossing the road or waiting for the pedestrian lights to turn green.
Try not to walk alone while wearing headphones.
It can be tough changing our habits. Some days we lack motivation, or we make a mistake and feel like we’ve failed.
That’s why it’s important to check in with yourself regularly and see how you’re tracking. Ask yourself what you feel you’ve done well and what you could improve on. Small regular improvements are more sustainable long term than trying to change everything drastically all at once.
Everyone is capable of having good screen habits and it’s never too late to start making improvements.
Being a good role model for your child will not only set them up to have healthier screen habits themselves, but your habits will also improve as a result.