South Korea are building hundreds of digital detox boot camps, the UK is seeking to employ an extra 8,000 school counselors and the USA has its digital detox centers that cost parents thousands of dollars.
Great as they may sound they all work on the individual. None look to tackle the issue of excessive screen time at community level.
Think about it, you have a habit of constantly checking your digital devices, the last thing you need after counseling or rehab is to return to an environment where there is no support network and poor digital habits are common place.
People who suffer from other forms of addictive habits, like gambling, alcohol, smoking etc. can take action to avoid areas or people who practice those habits. They also have support networks to keep them free from their addiction, but its not that easy with screen addiction.
We live in an online world where the internet is very much an integral part of our communication network. Banks, business, friends, all use the internet to communicate so its impossible to avoid using the internet if you are to participate in that world. Without support in this type of environment, old habits can resurface very quickly.
Children learn from the environment in which they live. If parents demonstrate poor digital habits then there is a strong probability the child will also develop poor digital habits as well.
To help prevent this we need to build awareness at community level.
According to the ACMA (Australian Media and Communication Association) 64% of children connect to the internet via education networks. There will be considerable peer pressure on the individual child to participate with their online friends. This may create a strain on family relations as parents struggle to reduce their child’s screen time.
If schools promote healthy digital lifestyles and work closely with parents they can help to reduce their child’s use of digital devices. Many schools need assistance in determining what digital addiction looks like so they can spot potential dangers early on.
Taking the project of building digital communities into schools will help address this issue. It will also help provide parents with much needed advice on how to deal with their own digital issues within the family home.
Education and collaboration are two key areas communities need to establish. Schools provide the education link whilst parents collaborate with each other and with 57% of teenagers connecting to the internet via a friends house we clearly need a little more collaboration. Think about it, your child has poor digital habit issues and you are trying to limit their screen time. They meet up round their mates whose parents have little understanding of poor digital habits and follow no digital regulation rules. Your hard work is probably not going to last long as your child may well be at risk of slipping back into old habits very quickly.
The two statistics covered in this post are from the ACMA and shows two of the most popular ways teenagers connect to the internet. Both of these are very much within the local community and this is why the community is the place to start if you are to effect long term change. Education provides awareness collaboration provides the support network to ensure change is effected.
If we create a digital awareness within the local community schools can support parents by hosting digital addiction awareness presentations. As parents become more aware of the issues they can collaborate with the school and each other to limit the screen time for their child both at school and at their friends.
Interested? Then have a look at the free downloads and try it for yourself.
If you would like assistance in setting up a presentation evening within your local community or school please do not hesitate to contact me.