We are in a new era in the technological world where technology has a huge effect on people, especially for our little ones. With the current pandemic, we are relying more and more on screen time. It is difficult to strike a balance between trusting children with screen time, giving them some freedom, and giving yourself a break!
While many parents know that their children should not always rely on technology, saying it easier than doing it.
Here are a couple of ideas and approaches I would like to propose to any parent in the field of home technology. Because my flair is a bit dramatic (and entertaining), we can call it "Digital Parenting's 10 Commandments."
1. Understand That Technology Isn’t Your Babysitter
You, as a parent, are far more than just handing out a tablet to your child and saying, "Fun!" The use of technology in your home means an investment in the future of your child and your personal time, patience, and commitment will obviously be needed for this investment.
You are responsible for technology in your house. Do it safely.
2. Don’t let them waste their time
Parents should keep an eye on what their children are watching. Set a time limit, using an alarm clock, to make sure your child takes regular breaks from the screen or to remind yourself that you need to check on what they are watching or doing.
3. A phone must be given to them at the right age
Parents can also allow their children access to the internet or smartphones if they think their kids are old enough to balance smartphones and regular life.
When parents know that their wards are grown enough to build a balance and do not end up fixed to one spot, only then can parents give their children smartphones. In our book, kids don't need a cell phone until at LEAST middle school! Although it feels like they are getting them younger and younger these days!
4. Critically analyze them
Parents must track their kids' behavior, whatever they do every day. Whoever you talk to, you touch how many people in your social circle on a regular basis.
Parents have complete authority and the ability to control their children's social activities. In order to do this, there are a lot of apps now designed to allow parents full access to track what their children do online. Start tracking, but don't stalk them!
5. Be a Friend (and parent!)
When you are your child's "friend" you build trust with them that allows them to open up to you. Learn to let the little things go, so they trust you as a friend, but be there to advise them on the big things, so they know you are a firm parent. It's a tricky balance to strike, and one that we'll all be working on our entire lives.
6. Teach That Technology at Home Is an Earned Privilege, Not a Right
I urge parents to think of technology, and social media in particular, as my parents used to think of TV when I was a child. We could only watch one hour of cartoons on a television when we arrived home from school before beginning our homework.
Our bedrooms, where there were no TVs or phones, have been used for homework. If our grades or actions were poor, often for as long as a month the privilege of TV was revoked.
7. Make Mealtime About People, Not Technology
Today we are surprised by the number of families sitting around the dinner table who are all on the smartphones and tablets, not even engaging with each other when we go out for dinner.
Sadly, when we visit our families and friends' houses, we see the same. We wonder because it was not even conceivable 20 years ago, how anything like that might have happened. Assign a bowl to be used for everyone to drop their phones into before dinner.
9. Teach Your Children How to Be Upstanding Netizens
Do you encourage your kids to yell in the supermarket? Do you let them cut lines in the coffee shop?
Obviously No! Do not then let them act online like that either.
Take your time, socially and online, to teach your child how to be kind. Show the contrast between rude and pleasant comments and make sure they understand the difference.
10. Think twice before posting media yourself
When our kids are little, it's so tempting to post an adorable picture or a cute story of our child. One British study found that parents share 1500 images of their child by the time they are age 5! Some people call this trend "sharenting." When we do it too much, our kids catch on quickly, and start learning at a very young age that it's important to seek approval online. Think twice about what you are sharing, ask their permission, even if they are young! And think about how they would react to what you are posting now, when they are a teenager.
Do you have any other rules or policies in your home? Did I skip any major ones? Share in the comments your advice, tips, and observations so that we can explore them all together.