INDEPENDENT NEWS

Spark Foundation Supports New Children’s Book Aimed At Encouraging Screen Time Balance

Published: Thu 4 Mar 2021 11:58 AM
A new children’s book has been released which hopes to encourage young children to spend less time staring at screens and more time connecting with friends and whanau in person.
Available in English and Samoan, ‘Lemalie and Sakalia’s School Holiday’ is a result of Digital Discipline founder, Tony Laulu’s personal efforts to create an awareness about screen time and the importance of finding a healthy balance between digital and real-life interactions.
To ensure families around New Zealand have access to Tony’s message about digital balance, Spark Foundation has committed to a ‘buy one, give one’ promotion, where for each* copy of ‘Lemalie and Sakalia’s School Holiday’ sold, one book will be donated from Spark Foundation.
Four years ago, Laulu realised that social media had started to consume his life at the expense of his relationship with his sons, who were being ignored as he scrolled through Facebook, Instagram and YouTube on his phone.
He soon realised that he had developed an addiction to social media and his mobile devices but struggled to find support services that could help. It was out of this personal struggle that Digital Discipline was formed.
“Once I found ways to create balance and became comfortable with my relationship with social media, I started my own project to share my learnings. I wanted others to know about the negative impact that too much screen time can have on individuals, families and communities,” says Laulu.
Laulu says that it’s important to empower people with the knowledge of how to use technology in a way that enhances rather than reduces their wellbeing, rather than demonising it.
“Technology is a wonderful thing, and I want my sons to embrace it and learn digital skills, but I also want them to know that playing and interacting with their peers is just as important. When it comes to teaching young people digital skills and literacy, it’s vital they also learn about balance and discipline, so they can maintain a positive and healthy digital experience.”
Spark Foundation Lead, Kate Thomas, says that accelerating towards digital equity, means providing communities with access, skills, capabilities and wellbeing in the digital age.
“Spark Foundation’s vision is that no New Zealander is left behind in a digital world. We help get communities connected through our not-for-profit broadband product, Skinny Jump and our refurbished device programme, Recycle a Device (RAD), but as we do this it is critical that we are also equipping New Zealanders with the tools and knowledge they need to find balance and to keep themselves safe and well online.
“That’s why we have partnered with Tony Laulu and Digital Discipline. We want everyone to experience the benefits that digital connectivity provides but also feel empowered to use tech mindfully.”
‘Lemalie and Sakalia’s School Holiday’ is aimed at children aged 6 – 10-years old and is available to purchase now from www.chiefbookseries.com for just $25.
Ultimately, Laulu’s hope for his book would be to see it used as an educational tool for children of all ages and their families to provide a reminder about the importance of digital wellbeing.
“From one parent to another, let’s put our phones down for longer, let’s play with our children more, let’s be outside a little longer, let’s explore nature more, let’s laugh lots, let’s prioritise being more connected in real life – as much as we are connected online.”
Watch Tony Laulu speak about the inspiration behind the book here.

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