Wednesday, October 2, 2013

How do we curb our children's use of technology?

It happens in restaurants.  It happens in theaters. It happens while waiting in line at the DMV.  It happens at church.  I've even seen it happen at funerals!  People are using their technical devices everywhere! Why are we so fixated on our smart phones, i-pads, social media, computers, and gaming consoles?  Are we a generation becoming obsessed with our many technical devices? What do you think?

I recently read an article titled, How to raise grounded kids in a techno world.   According to this article, it helped me to understand that technology itself does not cause problems.  What's important is showing our kids how to use technology wisely.  Even though I would encourage you to read the article in it's entirety (click on the italicized link above),  I would like to paraphrase a few important factors from this article that might help us as parents rein in the madness of what appears as too much techno use today.  

How do we decide as a parent that too much use is too much use?  As a parent, sometimes I feel frustrated when I want to talk to one of my kids and it seems they constantly have their earplugs in listening to music or texting friends of an eternal list.  I want to say, "Can you give me 30 seconds to say something really fast before your head drops down and your eyes zero into the oblivion?"  According to Walker, "Appropriate technology use depends on the age of the child." I was surprised to read in the article that "for very young children no media was recommended at all."  And, "No more than two hours a day for both young children and even older children." So I ask you, "How much time do you allow your child to spend on technology?

If you want your children to use technology healthfully, Coyne suggests, "' [that] parents participate in their children's media use."  As a parent, I'm friends with all five of my kids on Facebook.  When they are below the age of 18, I know all of their passwords and have access their accounts. Also, along with their input, have set up rules and set limits as to how much time they can use their devices.  I've even heard of parents setting up specific contracts that must be followed in order to be a part of social media.  As parents we shouldn't feel like we're being nosy, but that we are protecting our children from a potential unhealthy situation.

Internet safety is a huge concern.  Walker suggests that we need to "prepare children before any issues occur."  I've always taught my children that if they see any inappropriate images to shut down the computer or device immediately.  I also want them to know that cyber bullying is unacceptable!  It's so important to communicate regularly with your child to know if this type of bullying might be happening to them.  We need to teach our children that whatever they post online can NEVER be retracted!  After they press the "send" button, as what may seem as an innocent photo or text to a child can unfortunately ruin many lives.  My mother would always say, "Once you toss a bag of feathers to the wind, you can never bring them all back."

As parents we need to realize that we are responsible in making sure our kids don't spend hours and hours a day using all these amazing devices.  Yes they are incredible and even educational but we must monitor usage, be involved in their media use, set rules and limits, communicate frequently, and educate them on how to properly use their smart phones, computers, or whatever might come their way.  Remember, common sense is sometimes the best intuition you will ever have!