In the development and trial of the Dolly’s Dream Family Technology Plan the biggest issue families identified was arguments and disagreements about for how long, when and what was used on digital technology. Parents and carers talked about children being so immersed they just didn’t get off when asked, children talked about adults not understanding the importance of online friendships, how video games worked and the way technology held their attention.
What became clear was that families need to talk and keep talking about their experiences of digital technology as a family to make sure everyone understands each other’s expectations and experiences.
This is what the Family Technology Plan is designed to do. It is about creating some family rules and a printed plan, but that is simply the outcome of what professionals tell us is much more important – communication and shared experience.
The Family Technology Plan only has 5 questions for families to discuss and answer. Most families who participated in the trial valued the fact the process could take 10-15 minutes, and be repeated on a fortnightly or monthly basis – rather than just done once.
The Family Technology Plan also helped families focus on the positive and important parts of their family and of digital technology. So often we only discuss technology when it is having a negative impact on family life. Yet, in talking about their experience of the plan, families reported that they were able to see the positive role technology played in their lives and so could focus on that and try and reduce the negative impact.
This often looked like reducing technology use, or scheduling time around other things that the family valued like walking the dog or watching their favourite sport together.
As parents, we so often are asking our children to “get off the screen” but we don’t provide them with an alternative. Phones, apps, videos games are really entertaining and fun and connect children with friends and a whole world and our anxiety is they spend too much time on it sometimes, which is true, but just saying “get off” is not enough. We need to provide an alternative and help children to find other things to do or work through boredom to a non-tech activity.
Our children can’t do this by themselves and so our challenge is to talk through that with our children and support them to better self-regulate and foster activities and interests beyond just tech-focussed ones. Dolly’s Dream Family Technology Plan is designed to do just that.
Start you family conversations using the Family Technology Plan today here.