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Are You a Connected Parent?

Studies show that between social media, gaming, and online learning, teenagers are spending an average of nine hours a day online.

Presented by Brain Health Initiative February 1, 2021

The Brain Health Initiative (BHI) is a cutting-edge approach to protecting brain health, optimizing brain performance, and fighting brain illness across the lifespan. The BHI is creating a culture that promotes brain health protective factors and decreases risk factors, thereby improving brain health and optimizing brain performance outcomes for the Florida Suncoast region and beyond. BE BRAIN HEALTHY and join the brain health movement because brain health matters, and lifestyle makes a difference.

Are you a connected parent?

As a parent, you worry about the amount of time your kids spend on their digital devices. Studies show that between social media, gaming, and online learning, teenagers are spending an average of nine hours a day online.

In their recent book The Connected Parent: An Expert Guide to Parenting in a Digital World, authors Urs Gasser and John Palfrey recommend embracing the concept of “connected parenting” to make the most of digital technology and keep your kids safe in the digital world.

The authors say engaging with your kids about technology is “literally necessary.” In today’s world, there is no longer a difference between online life and offline life; it is just life. And when it comes to screen time, the researchers emphasize the importance of quality over quantity. The amount of time your kids spend online is less of a concern than the types of activities in which they are engaging, and how their brains respond to those activities. Children need a variety of online and offline experiences, including time to daydream, to support their brain health and development.

The good news, the authors say, is that good parenting strategies can still be successful in this new digital world. Here are some suggested strategies for being a connected parent.

  • Maintain an open line of communication. Be open and willing to have a conversation with your kids about digital issues—and anything else.
  • Embrace the technology. Learn about the apps and games they are playing. You don’t have to spend your day on TikTok, but do be positive about new technology and build your skills so you can help mitigate risks.
  • Seek balance. Be supportive, but allow your kids some independence.
  • Don’t fear new technologies.
  • Engage with the technology yourself. To be credible and model good behavior, you need to engage. You many feel like you are constantly learning and readjusting, but it will help you support and empower your kids.
  • Create a family technology plan. Technology should work for you and within your family values and parenting style. Don’t let it replace important activities such as face-to-face interaction, family time, outdoor play, exercise, unplugged downtime, and sleep.
  • Treat technology like other activities. Know what your kids are doing online. Set limits. Know who their friends are. Know what apps they are using and what sites they are visiting.
  • Engage with your kids online. Screen time doesn’t have to be alone time. Play a game with your kids, or watch a video with them.
  • Create tech-free zones. Designate certain times and areas as screen-free times, such as no phones at mealtime or bedrooms are screen-free.
  • Teach your kids about privacy. Make sure they understand that once they share something online, it can’t be deleted.
  • Be forgiving. Kids will make mistakes, so try to be understanding and treat mistakes as teachable moments.

If you would like to learn more about how screen time impacts our brain health, check out this recent webinar from our partners at McLean Hospital.

Each month the BHI shares the science behind a different brain health pillar and information about how to practically apply this science to the daily life of you and your family. If you are looking for more information about how to live a brain healthy lifestyle, check out our Brain Health Boosts archive at brainhealthinitiative.org/outreach/brain-boosts/. To learn more about the Brain Health Initiative and to become a Brain Health Champion, visit brainhealthinitiative.org.

The Brain Health Initiative needs your participation!

There’s still time to participate in the Brain Health Initiative Pilot Study. If you received one of the invitations sent to randomly selected adult residents from Lakewood Ranch, we encourage you to complete the online survey. The pilot study examines the ways you function mentally, socially, cognitively, and overall, as well as the factors in your life that present risk or promote resilience in brain health and performance. Community participation is critical to the study’s success.

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