Monday, March 30, 2015

Healthy Technology Use Speaker Series - Notes from March 25th, 2015

Courtesy of a Lowell school parent:

March 25 Recap
The first event featured Laura Indigo who led us through mindfulness activities for adults and children and Jon Mattleman who framed the problem of the hidden and emotional consequences of the Internet and digital space. Mindfulness activities help us—whether we are 5 or 95—reconnect to our feelings, thoughts, and bodies. Even a few minutes of mindfulness can return a child or adult to a powerful feeling of wellbeing. Jon agreed that while technology is incredible, if we feel compelled to be connected24/7, we are losing out on personal human-to-human relationships, time for reflection, and calmness in our lives. Our goal is healthy connections online and offline too.

Some of Jon’s core messages:
  • Digital platforms magnify the toughest part of adolescence. Too much exposure to the wrong messages can be humiliating and scary, negatively impact self-esteem, and induce anxiety, isolation and lead to self-harm.
  • Many kids do not understand the permanence of what you put online. If you put a nasty statement or an indecent photo online, it never goes away.
  • Due to the developing brain, kids are not great decision makers. Technology takes away the ability of kids to make bad decisions without the aftereffects haunting them.
  • Technology and risky behaviors are intricately linked. Digital access increases the risk of drinking, drugging and sex. Kids communicate their worst emotions online, leaving their friends unsure how to respond and filled with anxiety.
  • Cyberbullying is real and the majority of middle and high school students do not tell their parents about it.
What to do?
  • Set limits. Reduce exposure. Whether your child is 1 or 15, make rules. If you pay for a phone, you can take it away.
  • Even if you feel as though you have lost control, you can decide to get it back any day. Children are minors and require parental direction.
  • Put a family contract in place regardless of your children’s ages. For example, technology can only be used in common areas of a home; school work first; no technology before school; no technology at the dinner table; phones are not allowed if you have sleep overs.
  • Talk to kids about technology. Have you used this app? What do you like about your favorite app? Have you heard of problems? What would you do if…?
  • Talk with your family about healthy technology use. What do you do that you enjoy and that is health promoting?
  • Have tech-free times. Unplug. Try mindfulness activities.
  • Model appropriate behavior.
  • Stem the tide of over use by talking with your kids’ friends’ parents. Do not go it alone. Build safe communities with other parents, schools, teachers, coaches, extended family members, friends, and others. Share this recap with family and friends!
About the series
Special thanks to Watertown Community Foundation for making this series possible. The series is a collaborative effort between local parents, Watertown Public Schools, the Watertown Special Education Parent Advisory Committee (SEPAC), the Watertown Boys and Girls Club, Wayside Youth and Family Services, the Watertown Youth Coalition, Live Well Watertown, the Watertown Education Foundation and Families for Depression Awareness.

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The Healthy Technology Speaker Series Committee