The first laptop of the child: the rules to respect and the errors to avoid - The360 Lifestyle

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  • Sunday, December 1, 2019

    The first laptop of the child: the rules to respect and the errors to avoid

    The first laptop of the child: the rules to respect and the errors to avoid

    Many teens get their first phone when they enter college. How to frame its use while respecting their privacy and promoting their autonomy? The answers of Serge Tisseron, psychiatrist and author of 3-6-9-12, tame the screens and grow. 


    "All my friends have one." Of course we are talking about the mobile phone, the ultimate accessory that any teenager claims upon arrival in the big leagues. In 2018 and according to the second Observatory of French digital practices, conducted by Bouygues Telecom, 68% of the children interviewed had a smartphone at their entry in the sixth. What rules should be in place to ensure healthy consumption? Serge Tisseron, psychiatrist, member of the Academy of Technology and author of 3-6-9-12, taming screens and growing up, gives his advice so that this rite of passage does not turn into a fiasco.

    Why is it so important to introduce rules of use with your teen?

    Serge Tisseron. Many parents think that their teenager or even their pre-adolescent is capable of managing their digital environment alone. But even if he undertakes to do so, he is not yet able to control his personal use. Self-regulation capacity only sets in after about twenty years of brain evolution. This is why it is essential to set rules within the family circle. They will protect the child from excess and encourage him to develop, through his entourage, self-regulating abilities. It is necessary, as for food, to learn to create rituals of good conduct around the screens, to socialize their use. If parents do not, the risk is that of excessive consumption, which will impinge on his sleep, but also his social life, through difficulties of attention in everyday conversations, and school, with particular problems for to concentrate.

    The laptop can be a way to emancipate, to empower. By owning one like his comrades, he also sticks to certain social norms. How to ensure a "healthy" consumption while respecting this?

    In the UNICEF report Children in a Digital World, published in 2017, we see that the use of digital tools by children has essentially positive effects. The use of a mobile phone would increase the feeling of being in touch with others, reduce the feeling of isolation and favor existing friendships. It is still necessary that the consumption is moderate. Healthy use is first and foremost the one that does not encroach on other activities and that is socializing and creative. We must always know what the child does with his digital tools, including his laptop. And the only way to do that is to talk to him.

    How to proceed concretely?

    First, anticipate. As soon as the child is 8 years old, we can ask him if some of his comrades have a cell phone, ask him what he thinks about it and tell him how old he will be. In my opinion, not before the fifth, but it depends on the choice of parents and possible trips that the child must make alone to go to college. Then, we put in place basic rules. Never use the phone during meals or in the room and institute a curfew: no more mobile after 22 hours. Screens make it difficult to fall asleep and disrupt sleep patterns. Time slots can also be defined for use: two, three or four hours per day. Parents to choose, but two hours seem reasonable. It will obviously be possible to "renegotiate the contract" with the teenager, depending on the academic results, for example. However, the absence of phone during meals and in the room is not negotiable. In general, the time control must be maintained according to the behavior of the teen: some self-regulate quickly, others fail. Finally, it is essential that parents lead by example following the same rules.

    Are there any applications to avoid downloading to guard against overconsumption?

    No, above all, clear educational references are needed. In the association 3-6-9-12 (association created by Serge Tisseron in 2008 to protect children from the danger of screens, Ed), we recommend three: the accompaniment of the child from the youngest age , the alternation of activities with and without screens, and the learning of self-regulation. Without the latter, the teenager will struggle to manage the formidable power of attractive digital activities. Today, all content producers are looking for ways to tap their users, regardless of their age. We see it in video games, but also on Netflix, Netflix Kids or YouTube. Parents will allow their children to "stay free" and protect them from pathological use by talking to them, from three years of age, about the use they make of screens. To prevent them from looking for illusory rewards on social networks later on, they should also be encouraged to socialize and congratulate them reasonably for what they do in reality, from a very young age. Finally, spying the phone's history is to be avoided. The child understands it sooner or later and sets up wiles that gradually make him a secretive and sneaky child. Nothing is worth the trust.

    What signs of overconsumption should alert?

    When he prefers to stay on his phone rather than accept concrete activities offered by his classmates, such as going to the movies, skateboarding, going to a concert, etc.

    What to do when using the laptop becomes a source of conflict within the family?

    We must limit the time spent on it and try to understand what is happening. Studies show that children who have a pathological use of the smartphone belong to two categories. There are those who have not been supervised, accompanied by parents in their use of digital tools, and those in psychic suffering. They risk a frenetic use of social networks to build self-esteem that they do not find in real life. It's important to understand that a child or an adult who is becoming socialized is always fleeing the rest. And if there is a flight, there is suffering.

    What suffering can it be?

    To develop a pathological practice, you must have something to forget. It may be personal suffering such as emotional disappointment or harassment. It can also be a family suffering, especially in connection with the divorce of parents, or the announcement of their separation, a move that deprived the child of his comrades, or a mourning, including that of a grandparent who was very dear to him. It can also be a social phobia. But the most common reason a teenager is isolated in digital practices is the suffering of the adolescent crisis itself. That is why it is very important, at that age, to be careful both to limit the screen time and to maintain a strong emotional bond with his child, by spending time with him, talking to him about his schooling and not just school work, taking the evening meal together and, when possible, breakfast.

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