Our world is crowded with technology. We are fighting for Facetime (and I don’t mean via the iPhone). As parents and grandparents we find ourselves in a world where our kids are captivated more by what is on screen than what is right before them – real life.
Whether it be games or the constant texting of the tween and teens or even movie watching, we are fighting for time and space with an ever growning world that has the ability to take our children on a journey that doesn’t include us.
I raised my children before any of this exisited, which gives me the opportunity to form an opinion based on what I have not only seen but experienced both as a parent | grandparent | care provider.
Now, I understand what technology provides in terms of assistance when you are out shopping or in the car traveling or perhaps watching an older siblings saturday sports. Maybe you use it when you are at the hairdressers and babysitters are few and far between. Gosh, I would have loved to have had something to keep my little ones captivated, even for a moment to enjoy a cuppa. The challenge comes in when we let the boundary lines slip (remember I wrote about boundaries a while back…. well, we need to create healthy boundaries when it comes to technology). Have your boudaries slipped or, did you even create any to keep your children safe?
If you have, GREAT! Well done. If you haven’t, don’t worry start now. If they’ve slipped, that’s okay too, let’s just get back onto it.
What do these boundaries look like and why should you create them? First let’s look at why we should create them:
1) Research shows that kids who have more screen time struggle with obesity & attention problems.
2) Anger issues tend to arise, especially within boys, due to the constant stimulation and frustration with real life
3) Personal connectivity gets lost and isolation becomes more comfortable and normal.
4) Online personas become all consuming and more engaging than real life.
5) Online bullying typically takes place between 8pm-early morning hours. This may not seem relevant to you and your toddler however keep in mind, you are creating habits that will take them into their tween and teen years. Something you need to create and establish now.
These are just 5 simple reasons why we should be creating HEALTHY boudaries around technology. Now, the big step, HOW do you create healthy boundaries:
1) Decide when and why you are using technology to help your day.
2) Determine how long (at a time) your child can use technology. Use an egg timer or the timer on your phone so they know, when the timer goes, technology ceases.
3) Turn off all technology at meal times and create a healthy face-to-face zone that will mean a lot when your children are teens…. trust me on this one!
4) NO TECHNOLOGY IN PRIVATE SPACES. By this I mean, nothing in bedrooms or quiet corners away from the eye of a parent.
5) Parental Controls are a MUST. Put them on and if you don’t know how, do some research and find out how you can monitor not only their activity but their time spent online.
6) Choose a time to TURN IT OFF. Decide what hour of the day you will unplug your modem, thus restricting online access throughout your house. Now this may sound strange and tough but again, trust me, it’s so worth it and so good. This will help create conversation and draw your family together.
7) Find alternative things to do as a family: go for a hike (especially this time of year, the weather is beautiful), bake something, get the kids involved in dinner prep (set the table, toss the salad, etc.), get them to help fold the laundry (towels are perfect for this, especially tea towels).
I encourage you to set your boundaries and do the ‘hard yards now’ as you will reap the benefits not only now but in the years to come. Technology is only increasing and demanding more of our waking hours. It is incumbant on all of us to keep our children safe and that means not only from those lurking in forums and masqurading as gamers but also keeping them safe from loosing all their time and missing out on what truly matters…. Real Life.