WATCH HOW WE SCREEN

IT CAN CRE­ATE DE­TACH­MENT IS­SUES IN RE­LA­TION­SHIPS AND SET BAD EX­AM­PLES FOR OUR CHIL­DREN. SO, HOW DO WE MON­I­TOR OUR­SELVES?

Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | RELATIONSH­IPS - WORDS: JOANNE WIL­SON

Iwas so thrilled to re­alise there is a Safer In­ter­net Day each year which falls on this Tues­day, Fe­bru­ary 5. Not a week goes by when cy­ber-re­lated chal­lenges aren’t raised in the coun­selling room.

Safer In­ter­net Day’s mis­sion is to pro­mote the safe and re­spon­si­ble use of tech­nol­ogy for young peo­ple. What a great day.

In my ex­pe­ri­ence, the most com­mon ar­eas for con­cern dis­cussed in coun­selling are: Fre­quent late-night use of the in­ter­net. Ad­dic­tive games and re­lated con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple un­known to part­ners.

Ob­ses­sive pro­tec­tion of phones that never leave their side.

Lack of at­ten­tion to chil­dren’s hours spent on­line that causes ag­gres­sion or mood­i­ness.

If you have chil­dren, there are some great on­line safety quizzes to check their un­der­stand­ing around shar­ing their im­ages, giv­ing out their in­for­ma­tion and what to do about on­line bul­ly­ing.

It could save their life.

I to­tally love that we’ve be­come even more con­nected, thanks to tech­nol­ogy.

Long-dis­tance re­la­tion­ships are en­hanced with it and those liv­ing or trav­el­ling abroad feel closer than ever.

In day-to-day life, how­ever, screens are of­ten an un­wanted third per­son in the re­la­tion­ship.

When both part­ners are screen-ad­dicted, it’s some sort of crazy four­some where the only real con­nec­tion is the charg­ing port that sus­tains this un­healthy at­tach­ment.

It’s not just our chil­dren with whom we need to have sen­si­ble dis­cus­sions.

We also need to com­mu­ni­cate with our part­ners.

Here are some top­ics to ask each other: What do we per­ceive is a rea­son­able amount of screen time per day?

Can we in­cor­po­rate a fun chal­lenge with an in­cen­tive to re­duce it? (Many de­vices have in-built time track­ing to keep you in­formed.)

Do we set a good ex­am­ple for screen us­age eti­quette for chil­dren? (That is, put­ting down your screen, en­gag­ing with emo­tional at­ten­tive­ness and eye con­tact or keep­ing de­vices away from the din­ner ta­ble.)

Do we share new in­ter­ests apps or games with each other?

What apps, web­sites, pod­casts or blogs can we both use to en­rich our re­la­tion­ship? A great ex­am­ple is the Gottman Card Decks app for cou­ples.

Do we feel com­fort­able leav­ing our phone unat­tended and face up around our part­ner?

Are we com­fort­able to be on­line friends with ex-part­ners, old school friends or new ac­quain­tances of the op­po­site sex?

Who do we agree is ac­cept­able for us to chat to on­line?

Have we ever gifted money to a cause, a per­son or or­gan­i­sa­tion and not told each other?

Do we have a no-screen zone in our house or time­frames when we con­verse real time in the flesh?

Do we agree with what each other posts on so­cial me­dia sites?

En­joy the won­ders of tech­nol­ogy to be en­ter­tained, or­gan­ised and in­formed, but if you’re with­hold­ing in­for­ma­tion from your part­ner about your screen use, it’s your red flag.

Joanne is a neu­ropsy­chother­a­pist and re­la­tion­ship spe­cial­ist of The con­fi­dante Coun­selling. Con­tact Jo at www.the­con­fi­dan­te­coun­selling.com

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