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Don’t be overwhelmed, technology is just a tool. If a child were given a knife, or a teenager a car without proper instruction, and they were harmed, there would be a public outcry of parental incompetence and news headlines would trend far and wide. However, in a societal juxtaposition, these same children are being handed technology by their parents in the form of phones, laptops, televisions and consoles which if used incompetently can lead to physical, emotional and social harm – and it is the technology to blame not the parents. 

Firstly, we need to recognise technology for what it really is, a tool. Just like a knife, a hammer, or a car, it is simply a tool. Throughout history, humans have used tools to make daily tasks easier – and as the complexity of the task increased, so too the complexity of the tool.

We spend our lives mastering tools; as children, we begin with eating utensils through a thoughtfully orchestrated sequence. Spoon, fork, knife. The innate gradual release of responsibility from parents for infants ensures that the infant has mastered the blunt, smooth spoon before graduating to pointy fork, and then a sharp knife.

The same can be said for all tools to varying degrees, no matter our age. When we first look to use a tool, we are usually instructed by those more experienced before we embark on individual usage.

As adults, we don’t drive a vehicle or operate a new power tool without being taught. It is too dangerous. Yet when it comes to technology, it is frequently given to our children with little or no instruction.

At this point I should highlight that I am an advocate for technology. Technology is arguably the most versatile and revolutionary tool, reinventing almost every aspect of society through convenience, efficiency and end user simplicity.

Technology is delivering everything and anything to our home, it is saving endangered animals, it is connecting people around the world and it is allowing us to harness energy from renewable resources – it has irrefutably become ingrained as a part of our lives.

Why does technology, just another tool, break the ingrained parental construct of gradual release to our children? The versatility of technology hides its inherent danger from parents. Devices are often given as a form of entertainment, communication, or as a resource for education, but they can do so much more. It is in this “much more” where the dangers lie for our children, and as parents, we may not be fully aware, or we don’t recognise this danger.

The “much more” is like technology, it is constantly evolving, and this is where it becomes seemingly difficult for parents to keep up. Dangers like cyberbullying, viewing pornography, unwanted contact, and sexting are ever present.

Less visible are the impacts to self esteem created by endless social media streams depicting the unattainable, the need for gratification through success when online gaming, or time lost to streaming endless libraries of movies or TV series. And finally, the physical impacts on posture and eyesight from overusing these devices – especially as the devices get smaller.

Becoming more knowledgeable is the key to starting your child’s technology journey the right way, or getting the journey back on track. There is now research and support for parents to better use technology and help their children to do the same.

Here are some great places to start:

• Visit Dr Kristy Goodwin’s website,, where she decodes the neurobiology of peak performance in a digital age.

• Visit the eSafety Commissioner website,

• Access reviews and information on new and trending media at Common Sense Media to ensure the appropriateness of the content your children access,

• Have open conversations about using technology safely and responsibly, and role model healthy technology use.

• Identify when to intervene by recognising when technology is impacting on your child’s basic human needs: eating, sleeping, education and face-to-face human contact; or other things that are important to you as a family.

Despite the dangers, the integral connection with society and technology means that we cannot remove technology from our children’s lives.

If we were to completely shield our children from technology, when they leave home they will most likely fall down the “rabbit hole”, as they wouldn’t have learnt how to manage their technology use in a healthy manner when they were younger.

Remember, as parents we have successfully taught our children to use countless tools, and technology does not have to be any different. Being involved in your child’s technological use, role modelling healthy technology habits and remembering that technology is just a tool will ensure that our children have a healthy relationship with technology.


  • Ben Dallimore

    Ben Dallimore began his career as a primary school teacher with a passion for technology. In 2002, Ben took up a position of Head of IT at The Ela Murray International School in Port Moresby. In 2007, Ben completed his Masters in Educational Technology and began working at The Cathedral School of St Anne and St James. In 2013, his role changed from classroom teacher to Technology Integrator where he taught students from Prep to Year 6. In 2022 Ben accepted the newly created whole school role of Director of ICT at The Cathedral School.