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Welcome to BIS

“You pay for social media with your time”

Eye-opening lecture about digital wellbeing: Dino Ambrosi of the University of California, Berkeley 

In the era of digitalization, social media, and smartphones, a significant issue known to all parents is the excessive screen time for children and the prevalence of mindless entertainment – essentially, time wasted. Parents themselves are not immune to this, often setting less than ideal examples. Dino Ambrosi, an expert in digital wellbeing, TEDx speaker, and lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, visited the Bavarian International School (BIS) to delve into this area of concern.

At the beginning of his presentations to both parents and secondary school students, Ambrosi startled the audience with a revealing chart. It illustrated the remaining years of life for an 18-year-old today, deducting time for essentials like sleep, school, work, meals, hygiene, etc. The chart revealed that the individual would spend a significant portion of their remaining lifetime – 312 months – in front of a screen, the majority of which would be unproductive. Thus, only a fraction of genuine free time remains.

The digital pacifier

The inventor of Project Reboot, a guided digital toolbox programme designed to help teens reset their habits, made it impressively clear that most teenagers have an "addictive relationship" with their smartphones, the "cigarettes of our generation". He compared iPhones and the like to a digital pacifier, which is used immediately in case of discomfort or boredom; scrolling leads to distraction and an easy escape into contemplation. "Unfortunately, the dopamine factory is right in your pocket, all the time," says Dino Ambrosi. 

Everyone needs to realise that social media can be seen as addictive entertainment, where the user is ultimately the product that the companies are selling. "You pay for social media with your time - and your data," says Ambrosi.

In order to make your digital usage behaviour healthier, changes should be made in three areas: Mindset, environment (physical, social, digital) and habits. Adults should question themselves as to whether they are a role model for healthy tech habits or whether they keep reaching for their smartphone in the evening while their children are around them.

Building a tech-healthy household

Summarised in a nutshell, Dino Ambrosi recommends these three biggest learnings from his presentation:

1. Kids who are addicted to technology know that they are addicted to it. If they are hiding it from you, it's likely because they blame themselves for it and harbour feelings of guilt and shame. 

2. Just because technology can be addictive doesn't mean that kids shouldn't be using it. Rather, we should focus on instilling a desire in them to leverage its positive aspects. 

3. Building a tech-healthy household requires cultivating an "us vs. addictive tech" mindset rather than a "me vs. you" mindset. Although rules and guidelines around screen time are important, make sure your child feels as though they have a say in the rules they are subjected to. Instead of being a judge, be a guide that helps them clarify their intentions for their tech use and holds them accountable to that ideal.

After his presentations, the top speaker for digital wellbeing was enthusiastic about the engagement and discussions with students and parents at BIS. He concluded by saying. "The work doesn't stop there. Solving this problem requires working together to cultivate a new set of cultural norms around how we use technology. 

Dino´s TEDx talk about “The Battle for Your Time: Exposing the Costs of Social Media”

Dino´s website:

Some more practical tips:

- Dino Ambrosi: My guide to building a tech-healthy household

- Dino Ambrosi: My blog post summarizing advice to parents

Clearspace (#1 screen time reduction app)

Center for Humane Technology's Ledger of Harms

List of Google’s 14 Digital Wellbeing tips

Digital Responsibility Family Plan by Google

In addition to all the information, Mr. Austin Lambe, our Head of Student Wellbeing, Community Welfare & Child Protection Officer, is having some more precious advice. He recommends that parents get together (ideally before Secondary School, but it is never too late) to draft a set of agreements with fellow motivated grade level parents that they agree to adhere to:

- Dumb (flip phones) allowed for Grade 6

- NO social media and smart phones until Grade 8 or even Grade 9

- Parental supervision: each family agrees to look at their child's device/accounts with them randomly but at least once per week

- Device free zones at home

- Device free times at the weekend and evenings

- Parents model the responsible behavior themselves

- Device free play time


Media contact:

Marko Mädge                                  

Head of Communications & Advancement                                         

T: +49 8133/917-132                                                                              

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