Q&A with Nigel Latta
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The Hyundai Power Off/Family On campaign encourages families to switch off and spend time together during the weekend of the 5th & 6th September, and is a great way for parents to introduce the concept of a ‘power off’ time to kids.
Hyundai Power Off/Family On ambassador, Clinical Psychologist Nigel Latta, shares how he limits screen time in his family, and his tried and true ‘power off’activities to entertain the kids.
How do you check in with yourself on whether you are spending too much time on devices?
Life is all about balance, so it’s really a matter of standing back every so often and thinking about how much time you spend looking at a screen. If every time you look up from your screen all you see is everyone else in the family looking at their own screen, then it’s probably time to set a few limits. You should also ask yourself when was the last time you all did something together as a family that didn’t involve screens? If you can’t remember, then it’s time to cut back.
How do you educate your children about screen time and the need for breaks?
It’s really important to educate your kids about screen time and the need for breaks, and you do that in two ways: the first is that you talk to them about all of that stuff, and the second is that you set limits yourself to encourage the development of good habits. It really is as simple as that. You need to talk about managing screen time and discuss all those issues, but you also need to remember that you’re the parent and so there need to be some limits.
What kind of rules do you personally have in your home around screen time and devices?
Our rules are really about times and places you can’t use devices. When you’re visiting friends or family, that isn’t a place for screens. We also ban devices when we’re out at cafes or places like the beach. My boys have devices in their rooms, but they aren’t allowed to use them after a certain time each night. Ideally you should try and keep a screen-free window for about two hours before bedtime. Generally we’re just conscious of trying to help them to develop a balance in their screen time and real world time. Obviously if they have a big project on for school then they’ll spend more time on screens doing actual work. We’re okay with that. When it comes to leisure time that’s when we’re more likely to intervene and button off.
What sort of activities do you do as a family when screens are off?
There are a bunch of things we do. Obviously going out for a coffee is a nice easy one, but we’re also quite keen on board games. I hate Monopoly with a passion, but some of the new board games are very cool and heaps of fun. There’s a great game called Werewolf where you have to figure out who the werewolf is - basically everybody gets to lie and be really sneaky. Genius fun! We’re also big road trippers, and so we try and build in road adventures where we can, although that does get harder as your kids get older and exams and study mean they need to get their head down.
For more information on the Hyundai Power Off/Family On initiative, visit www.poweroff.co.nz