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Helping children to build a healthy relationship with technology, and knowing how much of what is enough, is challenging for parents under the best of circumstances. Exam time however throws a whole new spanner in the works, an education expert warns.

“While some parents might want to introduce new house rules or impose a total ban on screen time during important periods such as exams, that approach could be counter-productive,” says Nola Payne, head of faculty: Information and Communications Technology at The Independent Institute of Education.

“However it is necessary to review and agree on how devices and especially social media will be used during this period,” she says, “and parents and guardians should play an active role in assisting young people to strike the right balance.

Payne says there are 4 simple things parents can do to ensure healthy technology habits for life:

  • Create and schedule fun offline activities and spaces where the family can interact without technology
  • Spend time with your younger children sharing your “tech time”. You can sit with them and create study notes or play an educational game together. This form of interaction can open up interesting discussions, in a natural way, and not feel like it is a forced conversation. The interest you show in your young child’s technology interactions will build a feeling of trust between yourselves and technology will be seen as a constructive tool for learning.
  • Respect your children’s privacy. This could be as simple as asking for their permission before you share and tag pictures of them online. If they don’t want you to do it, then respect their wishes.
  • Set boundaries (which the adults need to adhere to as well), for instance not interacting with technology during dinner or if someone is talking to you. “Parents need to embrace our changed world and work with their children to encourage a balance between technology and the physical world,” says Payne.