Parenting is tough. It’s definitely not a practice for the faint of heart. There are many things to consider when it comes to defining your parenting style and how to best direct your children:
- your childhood history
- your child’s individual personality
- social influences
These examples are just the tip of the parenting iceberg. Technology has quickly become one of the main areas of concern for parents in today’s world. And let’s face it, it’s here to stay. So rather than spending time and energy worrying about how to shelter your child from inevitable technology use, I suggest embracing the idea and focus on teaching your child the skill of moderation.
Screen time has become an integrated part of our lives, and it’s important to have open, honest conversations with our children regarding its place. The following are some simple suggestions that might help get the ball rolling:
1. When deciding on limits, include your children in the discussion.
The more we involve our kids in setting family rules, the more likely they will be to follow them. This practice demonstrates that you value their input, allowing them to feel empowered, thus building self-esteem. Of course, this needs to be considered on an age appropriate basis with the understanding that parents have the ultimate say.
2. Include yourself in the Limitations.
Let’s be honest, we could probably all stand to evaluate how often we’re on our devices. If your kids see you include yourself in the family rules, it will reinforce the values you are trying to impart. For example, you might agree on a rule stating no devices during dinner, or powering down at a specific time of day, such as bedtime.
3. Encourage mindful living.
I love the saying “Life is what happens while your busy making other plans”. Talk with you kiddos about the importance of living off line and being in the moment. Practicing this yourself is the best way to teach your kids the importance of this concept. The next time you find yourself in the car driving your kids around, make an effort to be intentionally present with them. We all know how easy it is to get distracted by our mental “to do” lists. Modeling mindful living and presence truly goes a long way. They are watching you closer than you think.
4. Use technology to limit technology.
I recently discovered an app called “OurPact”. This clever little creation allows you to control your child’s usage on all their devices and can block them from going online at specified times that you control. I especially appreciate the user-friendly feel of this app, and the ease at which you can manage your settings. It’s an easy way to limit screen time when you’re not in the same room, or even in the same city. And it’s free!
However you choose to mange the use of technology in your home, it’s important to remember to be flexible with your children and not set unreasonable demands. Adjust the limits with age, and realize it’s okay to make exceptions. The ultimate goal is to encourage self-imposed limits and to help them discover our beautiful world from an engaged vantage point rather than merely in front of a screen.