YouTube: Children, youth (and adults!) love the endless choices we have on this platform. From games and music videos to Korean reality shows, there is so much to look forward to. And you do not have to search very hard! Recommendations, special channels, email alerts are pushed to every user. We are entertained whenever, wherever and whatever! “There is never a boring moment nor an end to the show!”
WhatsApp: Who can resist the excitement of chatting with friends & classmates, sharing jokes and videos, all through the FREE app? Group chats help us stay in touch. Every WhatsApp alert sends a shot of excitement and makes us wonder “who?” and “what?”.
Instagram: “How many people like my photo?” “Who is the new follower on my account?” “How does this photo look?” “Am I popular?” From our research across Singapore schools, data show that girls are especially engaged by social media. But it is so distracting! And takes so much time!
Parents need to understand that social media works by getting users - children, youths and adults - to click as much as possible.
The more users click, the more information YouTube, WhatsApp and Instagram collect, the more these companies are able to sell advertisements and make use of the personal data. They will never stop prompting, alerting, attracting and persuading you to use the apps!
I would like my child to be able to enjoy social networking. How can they use it without it taking over their lives?
(1) Manage the Cravings: Shut off the Internet
Regularly shut off the Internet to remove stimulation for a period of time. Doing this helps us to reduce the urge to reach out and connect.
“Shutdown time helps shift the control back to me!”
(2) Enforce Social Media Blackouts During Schoolwork and Mealtimes
It is most fruitful to focus totally on schoolwork without switching your attention every other minute. Family time is also most useful when we pay attention to understand and catch up with one another.
“The important people are in front of you, not somewhere out in cyberspace!”
(3) Manage the Alerts
Decide which sources are most important. Remove alerts for the rest.
- - On WhatsApp, mute all conversations except for the really important ones.
- - Limit your YouTube channel subscriptions. Remember there is no end to them.
(4) Build Real Life!
When there is nothing more exciting, challenging and fulfilling life, alerts will fill your life.
- - Great CCAs keep us working on longer term goals and benefits
- - Frequent family activities keep us busy with one another instead of distractions
In our previous family workshops, we covered many more practical ideas for parents to manage the use of devices and cyber wellness for their children. Register your interest here to be informed of our next parents’ workshop when we launch the next dates!
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