Today’s 8 to 18-year-olds spend 8 to 11 hours a day on technology. Set up family guidelines to helps kids use technology wisely and add learning time to screen time. Get the free guide and suggestions for preventing technology addiction in teens.
(This post brought to you by TOPs Balance. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Bren Did.)
Technology, technology, technology.
It makes my world possible and is also the bane of my existence. I love using technology to keep in touch with our friends and family around the globe.
I also use technology for work both on this site and to teach online. But, when it comes to kids, enough is enough.
Raising Tech-Savvy Kids
I am a 70s baby so I did not grow up steeped in technology, I got my first email account in college and my first cell phone at age 22. My kids have had their own Kindles since they were in second grade, their own iPods since third grade, and their own computers since fourth grade.
Navigating today’s technology-laden world is a challenge for all parents.
A Kaiser Family Foundation study found that 8- to 10-year-olds spend nearly eight hours a day on technology including television, computers, tablets, and cell phones. Older children and teenagers spend more than 11 hours per day on electronics. Talk about cell phone addiction!
Teaching Healthy Tech Habits
We do not place strict limits on the use of technology in our home. Time limits inevitably turn into maddening negotiations or arguments. And I want my preteens to learn self-control and appropriate use while they are under my watchful eye.
We do have guidelines for technology that we discussed as a family before implementing. This helps our kids understand the guidelines and feel like part of the solution.
Use these guidelines to start your own discussion about technology use.
- No technology/screen time during meals.
We eat together as a family without a television on and all phones/devices are placed in the next room. This allows us to focus on one another, not work or games.
- No screen time until homework, chores, and practice are complete.
Our kids are required to complete their chores and other required activities before using technology. This means they have to get dressed, eat breakfast, and read for 30 minutes before switching on their devices in the summer and do their homework during the school year. Reinforcing this habit helps them set priorities.
- No technology after 8 p.m.
Sleep is important for healthy kids. We allow our children to read books or listen to the radio before bed. Technology is addicting and can to promote unhealthy sleep.
- No technology allowed in bedrooms or bathrooms, all technology in public areas.
There is a lot of undesirable information on the internet and no program can guard against it all. We require our kids to use the devices in communal areas so we can monitor their activities.
- No unapproved apps, parents review all programs and have all passwords.
Our kids’ devices have parental controls in place to prevent the addition of new apps without parent approval. This way we can discuss why and when they need each new app.
One app we all love is TOPs Balance. It’s a fact delivery app that balances overuse with knowledge. Each time kids log onto their device TOPs Balance provides a quick question or fun fact from Encyclopedia Britannica before they can access their games.
My kids often get sidetracked by the interesting information and click through facts instead of playing online games. Today they have told me details about the building of the Titanic and the original use of German shepherd dogs, both facts they learned on TOPs Balance.
- No personal information shared online.
I am a college instructor and I am shocked by the lack of privacy expected by today’s teens. I share examples with my kids and discuss the danger of over-sharing personal details in an age-appropriate manner.
- No information that embarrasses yourself or others shared online.
Once information is online it is in the public domain forever. I try to help my kids understand what harm online teasing and joking can do to their image and that of their peers.
- Learn something.
Encourage kids to learn more about their favorite games and activities instead of limiting use. Our kids are learning about programming for Minecraft and practicing video editing for YouTube. Developing these skills will be valuable in their future and still make them feel like part of the action.
- Take a break.
I don’t time my kids’ technology usage but I do encourage them to pay attention to the time and take breaks for other fun activities.
Technology Guidelines for Your Family
Use these guidelines to start a family discussion about technology use and then set up a few rules of your own. You can download a free printable PDF to start the discussion and make your own guidelines.
Technology is a fun and valuable part of our kids’ future. Helping them learn self-control is an important parenting task to prevent mobile addiction and get them ready for adulthood. Have you tried TOPs Balance? What are your technology guidelines?
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