Sadly ATC boys are spineless which has led to cyber hate being a significant issue for our community.
Data from a recent Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Census at Schools survey reveals a correlation between the level of concern boys have about cyber hate and the number of hours they have access to ‘screen time’. Unfortunately, screen time has become the modern day babysitter leading to an urgent need for parents to find their ‘digital spine’ and set informed boundaries regarding cyberspace. Boys without a digital spine are at greater risk of psychological problems including anxiety and depression the longer they stay glued to a digital screen.
The perfect storm results, for boys at least, as their brain does not fully develop until they are 27! Until then our boys don’t have a metaphorical spine to monitor impulse control and predict the consequences of their actions let alone the psychological and cognitive maturity to manage a digital footprint. So how do we form boys with digital spines? Regarding social media – stick to the age restrictions for each platform as they are there for a reason. How much screen time is too much screen time? If you think that your son’s behaviour online is having a negative impact on other aspects of their life, it’s too much time and you have to provide the digital spine.
The number of hours boys spend online varies significantly and there is no guideline for the perfect amount of time kids should be online. You may choose to go Cold Turkey as a way of setting those limits and boundaries and negotiate consequences. Regarding consequences – united parents stand, divided parents fall so perhaps develop your confidence to become an iParent!
Many parents are petrified of the ‘P’ word – Pornography! Maybe it’s time you talked to your son about this as there’s a good chance they are accessing it already even before they’ve had their first kiss. Indeed, many parents are on their ‘P’s when it comes to cyberspace however the following ‘Ps’ are the foundation of a good digital spine: Never post anything online that you wouldn’t want your Parents, the Police, a Principal or a Predator to see.
At ATC Cyber hate is a significant issue, not because it’s a problem, but because we are committed to empowering our parents, carers and boys to minimise the impact of this online and offline. Indeed, the best ‘P’ word in forming our community’s digital spine is ‘Proactive’.
Conor Finn, Dean of Formation