Have we lost the phone battle?
The interesting and often challenging mix of technology, mobile phones and your children
FOR parents dealing with their children’s use of technology, is it a case of rolling up their sleeves and preparing for battle?
As both a parent and an educator, I completely appreciate the complexities of parents managing their children’s use of technology. Believe me, I’ve been in the trenches and fought the battles of removing these devices. I have scars. But is it just too late for parents to control?
Technology is all encompassing and attempting to explore all areas of children’s engagement such as gaming and online activity would prove lengthy. Therefore for the purpose of this article I wish to explore the use of mobile phones, timely with the recent media attention of schools banning these devices across the state.
One of the difficulties with the rapid development of mobile phones is that we have no history of how we managed children from past generations. It’s important to note that our current generation of children have never experienced a world without such technology. Therefore they find it difficult to relate to prehistoric parents lecturing them about what it used to be like to wait to use a phone that was connected to a cord as we attempted to hide around the corner so that our parents couldn’t listen in to the conversation. I’ve tried the “You don’t understand what it used to be like” angle and as I am sure you can appreciate it, it doesn’t work.
For schools, monitoring the use of mobile phones is complex particularly with the ever-increasing smart phones that allow complete internet freedom. With the instantaneous ability to send and receive messages, students are completely connected to one another for better, or worse. In the past when the school day ended a student would farewell his/her friend and not see them until the following day. Now, students have endless connection and in many cases completely addicted to their phone.
In an educational context and to put it simply, students need to disconnect from mobile devices and be present in the moment. Schools are not banning phones as depicted in the media but removing this devices as a distraction. Students and indeed parents may argue that these phones are learning devices however, for the most part they provide great distraction and the tendency for friendship issues to arise.
Statistics show that children often model their mobile phone usage from not only their peers but more so by their parents. Although children are immersed in technology, it doesn’t mean they have the skills to successfully navigate in these spaces.
Strategies that may prove helpful include: ■ Don’t give your child a mobile phone. Despite popular beliefs – not all children have them.
■ Limiting the hours of use – valuing the importance of disconnecting and being present in the moment.
■ Not permitting mobile phone devices in bedrooms – disconnecting is paramount.
■ Storing mobile phones in a central area in the house.
■ Not engaging in use during meals or family time – modelling positive behaviour. ■ Avoid the phone becoming a private tool of the child – know passwords and openly use this phone with your child.
■ Discuss the need to connect with online social media including Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram. Not all children engage in these areas – and importantly legal ages apply to these communities.
■ Attempting to remain calm when children find themselves in the wrong situation. We want our children to come to us when they feel confused or need guidance.
■ Reminding, reminding and reminding that once a message is sent – that message becomes public and cannot be retrieved. A photo/image/text is never private.
In regards to managing mobile phones and other technological devices the key message remains that parents and schools provide boundaries for their children. The majority of Queensland schools through removing devices are making it very clear that respect between our students is not limited to school grounds but extends to mobile phones and the online community.
My advice to other parents for what it is worth: Be strong and maintain consistent expectations of technology use. Above all, model positive technological behaviour. Setting clear boundaries and engaging in open conversation is key. If we consider this in terms of a battle – be positive and optimistic as it’s one that parents can win.
PHONE FIGHT: One of the great debates at the moment is the use of phones in classrooms, and the schoolyard. Where do you stand on the issue?