1.Staying Present Series: Keeping Technology from Taking Over
Let’s face it, technology runs our lives. Yes, we may be able to put down our phone for an hour or two as we go on a family hike, or might not turn the television on for three or four days straight. But be honest with yourself — How many times a day do you press the home button on your cell phone to see if you have missed calls or text messages, scroll social media or even check the weather? Are you even able to make dinner with the kids in the house without the support of television, phones or computers to keep your little ones busy?
Guess what? It is okay! Technology is actually a great tool! It helps makes us more efficient, helps us with directions and organization, and even gives us the opportunity to keep the little ones safe and occupied as we make dinner. The key with technology is finding the right balance for you and your family. If you eliminate it completely, you are actually setting yourself and your family up for failure. Kids are curious, and they are going to look at social media with or without your permission. You’re actually better off having your child view the media of their choice under your supervision. With appropriate guidance, restrictions and boundaries, technology can not only be enjoyable, but can also be a great parenting tool that provides respite when needed because — let’s face it — parenting is exhausting.
Here are some of my tips to make technology a safe part of your daily routine.
- Designate times of day that you are comfortable with your child utilizing technology. This might be as they are waiting for the bus, while you are making dinner, or before bed.
- Designate how much time your child is allowed on each device based on his/her individual needs. For example, one of the youth I work with gets 45 minutes of video games and 1 hour of iPad time per day. Every child is different.
- Have parental monitoring on all devices in your home to block inappropriate sites.
- Sit with your child or be in close proximity when they are on social media sites. Not only can you help teach them appropriate social skills via the internet, but you can also help them understand cyber safety and bullying.
- Talk to you child. Find out what they are interested in as well as what their peers are interested in. Your child might not be interested in Snapchat but that doesn’t mean you should not be aware of its capabilities. It could be your child’s next interest or there could be a very good reason why your child is staying away from it. Open communication is key.