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Will Our Kids Be Better 'Technology Parents'?

By Yvette Vignando - 28th November 2012

I confess I am a big fan of sleep.  And parenthood has only increased my love of this blissful state.

Now that I'm a parent of teenagers, sleep still consumes my thoughts – not so much my own, but theirs.  Ask them – they’ll tell you, with a roll of the eyes - that I have a strong interest in the topic. But there is a good reason – teens just don’t get enough sleep do they? There are some very informative articles on this site about sleep for teens, how much they need and why; you can find two of them here and here.

So this morning I saw the headline “Our web-addict kids miss out on meals and sleep”. And I thought, somewhat judgementally - surely their parents can do something about that? And at the same time I acknowledged, from my own personal experience, how hard it is to get teens to stop using a computer and do something else.

Researchers at Edith Cowan University (ECU) published a report called Excessive Internet Use Among Australian Children and it showed that “Australian kids’ internet use builds to a peak at age 13, when around 7 per cent are excessive users, then declines quite sharply over the next three years.” So apparently Australian teens (the next generation of parents) are moderating their computer use as they mature…

By the way, “excessive” is defined as behaviour that includes children:

  1. not eating or sleeping because of using the internet;
  2. feeling bothered when they can’t get online;
  3. surfing the web when they’re not really interested;
  4. spending less time than they should with family, friends or doing less schoolwork because of the time spent online; and
  5. trying unsuccessfully to decrease their internet use.

You can read a summary of the ECU report here.

This still left me with the question of why my generation of parents are finding it so hard to manage our children’s use of the computer? And I think the simple answer is that Gen X is the first generation of parents who have had to confront and manage this parenting challenge. Because I am a fairly assertive and authoritative parent who happens to use the internet frequently, and because I have the luxury of often working from home, the supervision is a little easier for me, but it is still, at times, a source of conflict and negotiation. Professor Lelia Green, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation at ECU said the research shows that “parents need to talk to their children very early on about the internet, show an interest in what they do online and help them develop basic internet safety skills, like how to block unwanted contacts.

I think it shows more than that – it shows that a generation of parents is still learning how best to teach their kids to use technology – and one of the major barriers to this is not having grown up with social media, online gaming and 24 hour access to information. Perhaps our children will be better at this, what do you think? Are we giving them enough information for them to confront this issue when they become parents?

P.S. A sample of articles on this site that might interest you on this topic include these (or you can just put “sleep” into our search box to see how interested I am in this topic!): 

Using Backlit Devices Can Impact on Sleep

Teenagers Need More than Seven Hours Sleep

How Much Sleep Does Your Teenager Need? 

Teens, Study and Lost Sleep - the Link with Academic Success  

image freedigitalphotos.net

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