In this posts I’d like to give some pointers on how to keep your child’s exposure to technology both balanced and purposeful. Some of these will apply now, while others might be useful to tuck away for the future:
Have designated ‘power-down’ times in your family’s routine: situations such as meal times, before bed, in the car to or from school, and so on all provide great opportunities for you to talk with your child. During these times be firm that no technology is allowed and take the opportunity to promote and model social skills such as asking questions and looking at people when we speak with them. Be planned and consistent with these power-down times – and that goes for you too. Avoid taking phone calls, checking email and the like during these times.
Have designated ‘power-up’ times: consistency and clear boundaries are important in children’s lives. Just as it is important for kids to know when they can’t use technology, it’s equally important that they know when they can use technology and for what purpose. Age appropriate computer games are equally as important as any other type of game or recreational activity. In fact, computer games have shown to develop hand-eye co-ordination, problem solving, and can help to stimulate and prepare the brain for heavier work ahead such as homework. Technology can also be a great way to learn, such as with the many educational iPhone/iPad apps, websites and computer programs. Later in life, it’s a great organisation and communication tool too.
Be purposeful: whenever your children are using technology, it should be purposeful. Activities such as Internet ‘surfing’, browsing Youtube, ‘stalking’ on Facebook and the like are not purposeful activities and can lead children into unforeseen areas or behaviours. Ensure that you and your child are clear on the technology’s purpose: which program or website will be used, for what reason and for how long. Remember, a purpose can include both work and play.
Keep technology use open: you wouldn’t let your children play at friend’s houses you didn’t know or roam around a neighbourhood unsupervised, so you shouldn’t do the same with technology. Encourage openness and honesty when allowing your child to use technology. Discuss with them how it helped with their work, what they were chatting about with their friends, or what they achieved in the game they were playing. Never spy on your kids’ online activities as this can break trust and create boundaries between the child and parents. Instead, promote honesty and openness through conversation.
That should do it for now, but if you have any other tips for parents please add them below?