Managing mental wellbeing in a technology-driven world

For young people, behaviours and risks in the online world appear to be mirrored offline. While new technologies are offering new platforms for adolescents to interact with each other, online behaviours can often be predicted by offline behaviours and characteristics. This means that the effects of technology on adolescent development differ between individuals. For example, adolescents with strong relationships exhibit enhanced relationship quality when virtual interactions are also present, while for adolescents who are struggling within existing relationships, high levels of technology use predict lower wellbeing and relationship quality.

Apart from the risks associated with cyberbullying, sexting, or online predatory behaviour, which can also be related to offline vulnerabilities, a young person’s mobile phone use that is interfering with their ability to engage in what they are supposed to be doing either at school, work or home, is a sign of problematic use and requires attention. If the quality of the parent-child relationship is strong offline, the easier it will be to discuss and implement strategies to confer benefits for the young person’s online experiences.

Here’s five simple strategies that parents and guardians can use to manage mobile phone use:

– Establish rules, such as when it’s okay to take calls or reply to texts, and when the phone should be on silent or switched off

– Encourage responsible phone use by modelling it yourself

– Ensure you and your child understand their school’s policy on mobile phone use

– Talk to your child about limiting who should have their phone number

– Reassure your child that you won’t take away their phone if they report something worrying to you

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