Here are five tips to help you figure out how to approach the subject of kids and technology.
In this article:
- Why It’s Important to Teach Kids How to Responsibly Use Technology
- Find a Balance
- Be Aware of the Warning Signs of an Unhealthy Attachment to Technology
- Model the Behavior You Want to See in Your Kids
- Create Your Family’s Tech Rules Together
- Understand How Technology Can Help with Learning at Home
5 Tips on How to Deal With Kids and Technology
Why It’s Important to Teach Kids How to Responsibly Use Technology
Technology is a part of our daily lives, and few things are more enticing for young children than digital devices. Your children are going to frequently interact with a variety of technology. This is true whether they learn how to use tablets at two years old or you ban screen time until kindergarten. Understanding how to empower your children to make the most of the technology available to them while not letting them become addicted is key.
Find a Balance
Technology is all around us and is not going anywhere. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Many technological devices can be used to engage children and teach them in creative ways. Tools like smartphones can help young children stay connected to distant family. Computers and tablets can be used to research topics of interest for school and for fun. Looking ahead, children who have a good handle on how to use technology will be prepared for entering a workforce that relies on it.
Of course, many parents rightfully worry about the long-term effects of too much technology usage in childhood. Concerns that excessive screen time can affect children’s development do have some basis. The approach to kids and technology shouldn’t be all or nothing. You need to find a balance between using technology and engaging in non-screen activities.
Think of it like establishing a healthy diet for your children. Sweets are fine some of the time, but your child probably knows they can’t have dessert instead of their vegetables. The same is true for technology. You can let your kids have screen time as long as they also play with friends and family to develop social skills and engage in physical activity.
Be Aware of the Warning Signs of an Unhealthy Attachment to Technology
The majority of kids like technology, such as video games and tablets. However, some kids take this attachment too far. It’s easy to develop an unhealthy addiction to technology. Too much screen time can also negatively affect school, sleep, and social skills. Keep your eyes open for the signs of technology addiction.
- One sign of an unhealthy attachment is a child who complains that they’re unhappy or bored without their phone or computer.
- Another sign is anger or even tantrums when technology is taken away.
Do you see any of these common signs in your children? You should take a look at whether you’ve actually found the right balance for your kids and their devices.
Model the Behavior You Want to See in Your Kids
“Do as I say and not as I do” almost never works in parenting. You have to show your children how you want them to behave. That means saying please and thank you, not raising your voice in anger and not letting technology take over your own life. Many adults find themselves attached to their phone or computer for both work and fun. This can lead to issues in several ways. Children who see parents “addicted” to technology are more likely to copy the behavior. Kids also often feel like they need to compete with technology to get their parents’ attention.
Set boundaries for yourself and your spouse about when technology can be used. Consider setting tech-free times such as at the dinner table and during family outings. In particular, be sure never to engage in risky behaviors that you want your children to avoid, such as texting and driving.
Create Your Family’s Tech Rules Together
Older kids tend to resist when house rules are made without their input. Coming together with your children to plan how your family will use technology can avoid some common issues. You will still have the final say, of course. Having your kids help set their own limits, however, can help them learn how to self-regulate in regards to technology. You can use resources such as Common Sense Media to decide what apps and websites are good choices for your family. Using technology together with your kids can also be helpful in teaching them to use technology well.
Keep in mind that different children may need different rules, even if you do create them together as a family. One child may be better at managing their screen time and still getting their homework done. A different child may need more parental oversight to make sure they complete their school and home responsibilities. Don’t be afraid to have different limits for different kids regardless of age.
Understand How Technology Can Help with Learning at Home
Helping your kids get the most out of technology means approaching it as something fun and educational. There are many ways that devices can help children learn. Educational channels on YouTube can help young children learn their numbers, letters, and shapes (with your help). There are many games available for smartphones and tablets that can teach children of all ages skills like problem-solving.
You can also use technology in creative ways. You can show your children how to record their own story using their tablet, or create graphic art using a computer program. Understand that children learn through play as well. Video games can be fun while also teaching how to overcome challenges and work with teammates.
One key way to ensure that your children are learning from the technology they use is to ask questions. Don’t let your kids zone out in front of a screen. Instead, talk to them about what’s going on in the show that they’re watching or the game that they’re playing. This can help them get the most of the material.
Learn how technology becomes a new addiction in this video from Expresso Show:
Tech devices like video games, smartphones, computers, and tablets have become a permanent part of our daily lives. A well-balanced approach to kids and technology can help ensure that your children understand responsible technology usage and gain important offline abilities like social skills and emotional awareness. By setting limits and following through, you can guide your children and help them learn how to be smart about using technology.
What are some of your tips to help parents and guardians teach kids how to responsibly use technology? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!