A tremendous two day conference with the Australian Independent Schools Heads of Sport.   A lot of interest in the "Clews Mood Cadence"  and how to build self-regulation, resilience and emotional intelligence in young people through their engagement in sport and physical activity.

Sport and exercise is critical for both physical and emotional health.  Sport needs to be mainstreamed in every school with movements breaks throughout the day to improve focused attention, memory, learning and emotional regulation.  A reduction in physical movement may equate to students becoming mentally distracted and disinterested in learning.  This is wrongly interpreted as being physically tired or bored, when it is often the result of being in a perpetual state of mental busyness and neural fatigue.   Brain chemistry that has historically been driven by exercise and movement has been hijacked by technology and can now be triggered by multiple superfluous finger movements across a screen.  The addictive nature of over engagement in technology comes from a constant triggering of little squirts of feel good dopamine.  The problem is when individuals trigger dopamine through mental busyness they deplete their neural stores.  Like a car revving its engine, it burns through the fuel and inevitably empties the tank.  Dopamine depletion can lead to a disengaged, agitated and irritable demeanour.  At its worst, an individual with an empty tank can experience severe levels of anxiety and depression.

Negotiating IT Management for

Parents

•        Parental control needs to remain in place as teenage brains will not fully mature until the young person is in their mid to late twenties.

•        Be flexible, negotiate rules and present electronic management as a discussion.  Maintain ‘the final decision making’, but encourage your teenager to think through a management plan with you.

•        Discussion helps develop awareness and the individual’s ability to reflect on the positives and negatives, when working towards a solution. A complete ban may promote dishonesty.

•        Routines should include co-curricular activities and socializing with family and friends, not just study time.

Study

•        Study is best done before TV/Games/social networking, use it as a reward.

•        Study in a central area of the home, such as a dining room table.

•        Monitor multi-tasking, make study time efficient and effective.

•        Switch-off the social network pages and phones while studying.

•        Restrict screen time to a maximum of 2hrs per day (phones, gaming, television)

•        Block websites you do not want your child to use.  Or, turn off the household modem or WiFi to restrict access at certain times of the evening?

Sleep

•        To encode learning into memory, teenagers need about 9 - 9 ½ hours’ sleep a night.

•        Keep all screens out of bedrooms at night

•        Have a switch-off time - at least a half hour before bed time.

•        It is less mentally stimulating to watch a television program or reading a book than interacting with others on the computer or over a phone, gaming or surfing the net. 

•        Explore light screens that do not interfere with melatonin production for sleep. 

•        Use a timer for Game playing and social networking, an alarm can help remind the individual when it is time to switch-off because heavy users can lose track of time.

Children are being increasingly raised in a “fight or flight” state, where social media messages convey constant threat.  Learn how to help students switch-off from technology and into life. 

 

 

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