The modern household is overrun with technology. And, what’s hard is that technology is easy.
It entertains us.
It is addictive.
It entertains and keeps our children quiet after a long, hard day at work.
But, brain-based research says it’s harming our kids. Most of us want to manage it, but we don’t know how to do so. Consider these six tips for how to manage technology in your household.
Be Curious, Play, and Enjoy People
1) When discussing technology for our children, they often hear only the negatives and boundaries we set. What if we also work on shaping our children’s affections for things other than technology? What if we ask our kids to put down their devices so that we can go for a walk or play with the dog? Or, go to a park for a picnic? Or, go to a concert or museum? Or participate in a service project?
We’re wired for human contact, to enjoy the world around us, and to enjoy the beauty of creativity. At first, they may not jump at these opportunities, but soon you will all find that you’re living more fulfilling lives.
Say No Once to Technology
2) Say no once. Too often, we’re afraid of upsetting our children or teens. We let them do things of which we don’t approve because we don’t want to bear their wrath. Two things may help.
First, fight the war, not the battles. By this, we mean that it would be better to say “no” to the gaming console than to have to say “no” and manage the daily usage. Why do they need it? Why does a grammar or middle school student need a cell phone? They don’t. Win the war, not the battle.
Let Your Kids Take Risks
3) Let your kids take risks. Which is riskier: a child sitting in his bedroom playing video games or texting all day or a child who is playing outside in the front yard with siblings and friends, even with limited supervision? For teens, which is riskier: the possibility that your teenage girl will crave attention through social media; that your teenager will encounter pornography online; or letting your teenager Metro downtown with a group of four or five trusted friends to explore one of the greatest cities in the world?
As a society, we’ve become too risk averse with our children. Consequently, we’re parenting the most anxious, tech-addicted, and anti-social generation ever known to man.
Set Healthy Boundaries With Screen Time
4) Set boundaries. Perhaps it means putting a charging station by your door, requiring everyone to deposit their devices when they get home.
Maybe you’ll set designated off hours for tech in your home (During dinner? After 7:30 p.m.?). Maybe you’ll require your children and teens to use their devices only in public spaces (something we recommend highly, even for the most trusted children and teens). Or, maybe you’ll take a weekly Sabbath from technology.
Whatever you decide, stick to it and don’t feel badly about it.
Manage and Monitor Technology
5) Manage and monitor. After you’ve fought the war by eliminating unnecessary technology from your home, you won’t have as many daily battles. But, some will remain.
Purchase filters (Net Nanny, Covenant Eyes, etc.), a Disney Circle, and check browsing history on your children’s devices often.
Use Technology As An Incentive
6) When appropriate, use technology as an incentive. Frame it as natural consequences, not punishment. “Once you’ve done X, then we can watch a 30-minute television program tonight” is better than, “If you don’t do X, then we can’t watch a 30-minute program.”
State the expectations, hold to them, and let your children see that actions have consequences.
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