Nature is being replaced by screentime

E Brain Rountable- How nature is being replaced by screentime

On 29 May, the Valuing Children Initiative and Community Health Nurses WA teamed up to host a round table discussion on ‘E-Brain: How Nature is Being Replaced by Screen Time’, held at EY offices. The evening was a great opportunity for valuing children advocates from a wide range of backgrounds to come together and discuss ways that Australia can better address screen use in our schools, homes, and communities. Guest speaker Professor Desiree Silva and Ph.D. candidate Rebecca Hood provided valuable insight into the damage that excessive use of screen time can have on a child’s physical, mental, and emotional development.

As accessibility and breadth of technology have expanded, it has touched Australians across all industries, reflected in the diversity of the group which included teachers, nurses, speech pathologists, and child wellbeing advocates. However, the group noted that it was important to recognise that technology is not a ‘be all and end all’ bad influence, but rather is a tool that needs to be responsibly used in partnership with parent-led problem-solving.

Professor Silva stressed the importance of unstructured play and creating green spaces in our local communities, which was a recurring theme in the responses from the group when considering where Australia can improve in helping children.

Another key theme was that the language surrounding technology should be as straightforward and accessible as possible, inviting parents and families into the discussion rather than ‘blaming’ parents. Language should explain the ‘why’s’ behind health education, focusing on the impact that parents can have on development in the first five years. The relationship that children have with technology is closely impacted by the relationship their parents have with their own devices, so it is important to empower adults to be physically and emotionally present with their child without technology from the get-go.

Ultimately, technology was seen by the group as only one element that Australian society needs to address to help our kids. It speaks to a larger problem of valuing individuality over the community, being materially successful, and getting good grades.

Valuing community and connectedness at every stage of life will help make stronger communities and help children thrive. Moving forward, the group prioritised making a network between the organisations represented at the Round Table, and work towards more nature-based play initiatives and encouraging common language communication with parents on the issue.

Thank you to EY, Prof Silva, Community Health Nurses WA, and the fantastic contributions of our roundtable attendees.