As stated, the purpose of the Global Alliance is to provide public educational programs, presentations, and seminars, and conducting and publishing scientific research in the field of technology and health on the nature, risks, impacts and mitigation of environmental hazards and human health – for children and all the family.
Never before in human history has it been so crucial to conserve the environment and safeguard the wellbeing of children and their integral relationship with nature.
We must support this digital generation so they can be tech-savvy, healthy, have social skills and deal effectively with stress, anxiety, depression and sedentary lifestyles. We help them be more connected with themselves, others, and the natural world.
The Family Tech Plan™ (Canadian trademark application pending)
Ready to take a look at your family’s screentime and greentime balance?
‣ The Process: This is the first step. Reflect on what kind of family life you want for you and your children/grandchildren.
‣ What qualities do you want them to develop as they grow up?
‣ Then, tailor your family’s tech guidelines so they’re in line with these
values and goals.
‣ The next step: The family chat – getting everyone on board. Yes, this is the challenge! Depending on the age and temperament of the children, they may or may not be willing to participate.
If the older children aren’t willing to put down their devices or be part of this discussion, leave the door open without nagging or confrontation. Plan some family activities that they used to enjoy and, without pressure, let them know they are aways welcome to join in. A wilderness camping trip? A day-hike? Campfire?
With the children willing to participate, make it fun and let them take the lead: they count up your screentime hours and take turns reminding you to unplug. Get them to suggest screen-free indoor and outdoor activities. For this chat it’s best to step out of your parent role.
With the younger children’s use of electronics, keep in mind your role as the parent is to set limits and know when and how to say “no.” Neuroscientists tell us that toddlers have not yet developed the ability to reason, so best not to try to negotiate or threaten them. Just take charge. Rather than giving them a tablet or phone to keep them quiet, give them your attention with a screen-free alternative. Even if you’re busy, can you take a few minutes to sit down on the floor with them and play a game? Or read a book?
The next steps – the guidelines:
‣ Device decisions – think carefully about giving your children a cell phone or tablet. Look into low SAR phones? Hard-wired internet?
‣ Declutter your devices as you did in the digital fast.
‣ Set tech boundaries and “rules.” For example, no devices at meals, dinner together at the table at least once a week; one day a week go screen-free; plan a nature outing at least once or twice a week.
‣ Invite others to join your family for mutual support.
‣ Sleep zone – power off all electronics one hour before bedtime. Leave devices outside of the bedroom, if possible. If there’s resistance, explain the importance of deep sleep, especially for students (and parents?) who feel the need to work late. Unplugging and sleeping in a WiFi-free environment is crucial for brain and heart health. You may recall we said even if your neighbours’ WiFi signals reach your house, it’s still better to turn off your own.
The School Tech Plan™ (Canadian trademark application pending)
How can students be tech-savvy, nature loving and healthy in this digital age?
‣ The Process: First, reflect on what kind of school life you want for students in each class and qualities you want them to develop. How tech savvy do they need to be at this age?
‣ How much do you want to balance digital expertise with developing analog skills such as: mindfulness, enjoying outdoor play, loving the natural world, cursive writing, creativity, imagination, being kind and empathetic and getting along well with others?
‣ Then, envision your school’s tech guidelines so they’re in line with these values and goals.
‣ The discussion – getting all parties on board. This may involve the administration, School Board, Dept. of Education at the policy level. Teachers and parents need to be informed and included.
The School Tech Plan: Screentime Guidelines – The policy is designed for each grade and age group.
Education – administrators, teachers, parents and students need to know about tech and social media addiction and how to use devices in a balanced and safer way.
We recommend information sessions with the greentime documentary Love Thy Nature and the screentime film Generation Zapped – an investigation into the potential dangers of exposure to RF radiation from wireless technology, especially on the health and development of children. Consider adding a Nature Studies course and a mindfulness class to your curriculum. Many schools have these and find them helpful.
Looking at students in this high-tech classroom, what are your thoughts?
Then these are the Less Screen, More Green issues to consider:
‣ School connectivity: hard-wired or wireless internet?
‣ Classroom connectivity: internet provided? If so, is it hard-wired or wireless? (“The wired computer classroom will not expose your child to RF radiation which is harmful.” Dr David Carpenter)
‣ Tech boundaries and rules: i.e., no devices in the classroom; no personal devices during class time; use for specific assignments only; connectivity regulated by the teacher (WiFi modem nearby with on/off switch); teachers set own classroom policy.
‣ De clutter devices: If these students need devices with connectivity, streamline them to remove/block inappropriate apps, social media platforms, internet sites etc.
‣ What mindfulness practice is best suited to this age group?
This is from a middle-school teacher: “At the beginning of each class, I ask my students to put their devices in the tray that’s on my desk. If anyone refuses this is handled as noncompliance: the student goes to the principal’s office and a parent may become involved. This policy has enhanced their ability to concentrate, learn and interact more openly with each other. This is well worth the hassle of dealing with the pushback from some of the more tech-focused parents. I have included a daily outdoor activity in our science curriculum. Even in bad weather the kids benefit from some physical activity in nature.”
Programs inspired by Indigenous Elders, Earth-Connected Cultures:
We also offer a Facilitator Certificate Program:
This training is designed for: parents, teachers, environmental educators, youth leaders and wellness coaches who want to offer our mindful tech programs in their homes, workplaces and communities.