I am an old man becoming more disconnected to a generation that has never been more connected in their disconnection! There is no doubt that the internet is an integral part of the lives of our boys. Firstly, increasingly their online relationships (56 friends on average) are more important than their face-to face ones! Secondly, our boys are unable to balance their time online and are exposed to inappropriate and harmful content and images. Finally, when online relationships go ‘pear shaped’ it is disastrous as what goes on the net, stays on the net. So what? It’s easy to blame the technology for this state of digital despair however digital citizenship is fundamentally about relationships and how people behave and not about throwing technology ‘under the bus’. Unfortunately, families often struggle to understand how to manage online and screen time issues.
Our strategies for parenting online are often entirely different to the strategies for parenting ‘face to face’. So how do we, as parents, negotiate this digital dilemma? Firstly, understanding the nature of online engagement by our sons is the initial step in exploring related issues such as trust and online safety.
If you are bewildered with how your son uses digital devices and unable to moderate them, the following guidelines may serve as a helpful start:
• Mud sticks: Your digital footprint remains accessible forever by family, friends, employers etc. As a general rule if wouldn’t want it displayed on a College Assembly in the NJC Hall – don’t do it.
• Plan don’t ban: Boys don’t tell their parents about cyber issues as they are scared they will lose access to devices. Let your son know you will support them without necessarily stopping their access.
• Upstand: Parents and Boys need to know the range of supports available to take a stand against Cyberbullying.
Being consistent and united in your approach is absolutely vital. Whilst you can reason with your son, setting your rules and consequences for breaking them, in a planned and methodical way is critical. These guidelines may be of support:
• Walk the talk: Set times for screen time and times for switching it off for the whole family.
• Waste time: Help your children find other things they like to do that don’t rely on a screen.
• Digital diet: What would happen if the whole family gave up screens for a weekend?
• Use carrots: Give rewards for good behaviour on devices. What reward can you provide that doesn’t involve a screen?
Don’t despair in your digital dilemma as your small bit helps to auto-correct humanity.
Conor Finn, Dean of Formation
The Opening College Mass is an opportune time to gather as a College community and reflect on our lives, our society and our world. Students, staff, parents and invited guests came together on Tuesday to be inspired by the message of the Gospel and the challenge Jesus set us when he declared, “Love your neighbour, as you do yourself.”
This message has stood the test of time, and is particularly poignant in the current political and environmental climate that Australia finds itself in. If we can resist the natural tendency to become angry, upset and anxious (MAD), and instead look to actively Make A Difference; our school, community and world will be a better place.
Matthew Warr, Assistant Dean of Formation