With technology playing such a big role in our world today, how do you raise kids who abide by limits without becoming over-reliant on – and possibly addicted to – its glowing allure?
While there is no plan that fits every family 100%, there are a few tips you can follow in order to set limits without banning the use of technology in your home altogether.
1. Accept that Technology is a Part of Our Modern World
It is no use denying that technology is a prevalent part of our world today. As such, you can’t completely guard your children from its influence.
The first step to raising your kids in the age of technology is simply to accept the fact that it does play a very big role in our modern world. Don’t feel like you need to hide your phone, keep the TV off 24/7, or ban all electronic devices from your home.
2. Practice Moderation
Rather than hiding all electronic devices and forms of technology from your kids, practice moderation. Though none is better than some (which is completely unrealistic), some is better than a lot.
This practice of moderation includes TV watching, surfing the internet and social media, and games on both mobile devices and on the TV. Be sure to set limits for single sittings and the overall day so that no one is in front a screen for too long during the day.
3. Create a Family Technology Use Plan
The best way to ensure that technology is use in moderation in your home is to create a family use plan. This applies to all members of the family, including yourself.
With the newer iPhones, you can easily set a plan for each user through the “screen time” function. It will alert you when you have reached your personal time limit for the day based on what you set and for what type of apps (social networking, games, etc.).
4. Model What You Want to See
You can’t expect your kids to follow your wishes if they don’t see you abiding by them as well. If you want them to stay off their phones or not sit in front of the TV for hours at a time, you need to model the behavior you want to see.
This is where the family use plan really comes into play. When you put a plan in plan and follow it, you can always be sure that you are setting the right example for your children when it comes to the use of technology.
5. Always Monitor Your Child’s Activity
For older children – particularly those who are starting to get into social media – you will ALWAYS want to monitor their activity. This includes the sites they are allowed to visit, what they are allowed to post (or not post), and the people they are allowed to talk to.
The same rules for their in-person interactions should apply to their interactions online. There should be no friends or followers you don’t know and privacy settings should be enforced and agreed upon.
Your child should also know that having access to a form of technology is a privilege, and as such, they should be willing to relinquish that device periodically if you feel that you need to check on their activity.
6. Set Appropriate Age Limits for Screen Use
Now, just because you plan to allow technology to exist in your home doesn’t mean that it’s a free-for-all. Appropriate age limits should be set for both use and ownership of certain types of technology.
So often, young children and babies are allowed to have screen time believing that there is no harm in starting from a young age. However, no matter how “educational” a program or game may seem, a child cannot actually comprehend what is going on until around the age of 2.
This means they are being exposed to unnecessary programs and screens rather than working on their motor cognitive skills with parents and care givers. It is best just to keep babies away from screens until they are old enough to actually comprehend what is going on.
As your child gets older, they will be more interested in social media, most of which allows members to start at the age of 13. Don’t let these “guidelines” determine what you decide for your child; you set your own age limit based on what you feel is right for your child(ren).
7. Have Technology-Free Zones at Home
Another problem many families face that goes hand-in-hand with the inability to communicate in person is the failure to create technology-free zones in their homes.
If you can only create one technology-free space in your home, it should be meal times. Many children are allowed to watch TV while they eat starting from a young age. From snacking in their bouncer in front of the TV to eating lunch at the coffee table, many children make the connection that meal time means TV time.
Instead, meal times should be set aside for family bonding. It should be a time to communicate and catch up on the events of the day.
8. Educate Your Children about the Potential Dangers of the Cyber World
As your child gets older, you will need to have some hard conversations with them. This includes the dangers associated with the cyber world.
Even though topics like the existence of predators on social media or cyber bullying may not be your favorite topics of conversation, it is important to have them so your child is aware and careful when they are using technology.
9. Keep the Line of Face-to-Face Communication Open
No one is perfect and mistakes will be made by all. It is important to keep the line of communication open between you and your child so that they feel comfortable approaching you with questions or telling you when they’ve crossed a line when it comes to technology use.
This means not condemning them when they come to you; rather talk it through and find ways to fix or get past these mistakes so better choices are made in the future.
10. Encourage Play Time over Screen Time
Most importantly – for kids of all ages – play time should always take precedence over screen time. Encourage activities that stimulate imagination and creativity.
For younger children, you can utilize blocks, Legos, or Play-doh to encourage creativity. Make believe play will come in as they get older; try playing house, cooking an imaginary meal, or even creating stories with dolls and stuffed animals.
Outdoor play should also be encouraged every day. Nothing can replace physical activity and sunshine.
Hi, my name is Schianne, wife to my high school sweetheart and mother of a beautiful and clever little girl. I’ve always had a passion for all things writing and literature, and motherhood has really allowed me to bring that passion to life. Experiencing how wonderfully challenging pregnancy and motherhood can be has made me want to share my story and experiences with other mothers to help them realize two very important things: you are not alone and you are stronger than you think