Parenting is never easy for anyone. Layer on top of that the wonders of technology and things get complicated real quick. However, just like parenting in the “dark ages” before the internet and social media there are some helpful hints to remember when parenting in this day and age.
5 Tips to Keeping Sane in a Tech-driven World
- Continue to set limits consistently as you would for other behaviors. Kids need limits set for all things…because something in excess is never a good idea. Moderation is fine and having a healthy tech diet (like 2 hours a day of total screen time as advocated by the American Academy of Pediatrics) is important. Sometimes when we wish we were less connected or unplugged, be realistic. Technology is here to stay. We all need it and we role model behaviors to our children. So unless you are to move to a deserted island or remote location deep into the woods, we must learn to balance the love/hate relationship with technology but also be mindful of exercising smart use. Have a clear discussion about your expectations early and expect to do it often.
- Play with technology (for example: Xbox, smart phones and computers) while exciting and stimulating does not substitute for low-tech play that harnesses imagination, creativity and “hands on” experiences outdoors and with others in the flesh. I know there are super popular creative video games like Minecraft out there but still…nothing beats good old fashion running outside with friends playing tag, hide and seek, riding bikes, playing sports and exploring.
- Less “Face Time” and more ‘face time’ with each other. Believe me, we are an Apple family through and through but I say this because screen time can easily take over and help pass the time when other things need to be done (guilty). However, keeping person-to-person conversation at the forefront is essential to teaching social skills. We cannot have our kids communicating only in emoticons and text abbreviations. We need to breed honest to goodness skilled communicators, both verbally and nonverbally. We do this through practice and role modeling. See number 4.
- Keep sacred tech free times/zones. You can put in to practice number 3 by keeping family meals a “NO TECHNOLOGY” time. Share your favorite “Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down” moments. Grab those fun conversation starters if you need to. Get your kids talking and sharing their ideas and thoughts. Talk about what will happen tomorrow, or the weekend. This will give your kids the positive attention they need while letting you all reconnect after busy days at home, work and school (see my post, Time In: The Foundation of Parent-Child Relationships“). Keep electronics out of kids rooms. Invest in docking stations that can be kept in common areas so bedtime and sleep are kept separate from the activating and stimulating screens at least an hour before bedtime.
- Be proactive and mindful about your children’s use of electronics and social media. Use reputable sites like Common Sense Media (www.commonsensemedia.org). Help teach your child about the dangers of social media: what a digital footprint is, how to be good digital citizens and what they can and should never post online and why.
Want more? I plan to review a book on a future Sunday Spotlight book post on what I am reading now: “iRules: What Every Tech-Healthy Family Needs To Know about Selfies, Sexting, Gaming and Growing Up” by Janell Burley Hofmann. You might have heard about her: Her open letter to her teen when placing a smart phone in his hands went viral (see To My 13 Year Old, An iPhone Contact, from you mom, with love). I have read a few chapters and am digging the advice she has about navigating this.
Until then check out these other related posts:
- Media & Children: Beyond Turn It Off (podcast)
- Teens and Social Media (podcast)
- Ten Tips for Parents in the Digital Age