Guest blogger: Lana Simon, Communications Specialist
Back to school time is always exciting in our home. It’s a new beginning, a fresh start and a new way to grow together. This is also a great time to set new house rules and boundaries. I’ve noticed that video games, social media and technology have become more prevalent in our house.
My kids are hooked right into the technology age, but how do I set limits and keep them safe?
Kids always want to be older than their age and want all the latest technology that grown-ups have. “Mom, I want a smartphone,” says my nine year old son. I take a deep breath and reply, ”Maybe down the road, not now.”
My son and daughter each have a computer with internet access in their rooms. My five year old daughter uses the computer for playing music, educational games and computer painting projects. She will occasionally ask her big brother to show her something. She will often go into his room, pull up a chair or squeeze on his and watch in amazement as he navigates the internet
My son on the other hand has become hooked. YouTube, Minecraft, Pokémon and more. He has even started to make and post his own YouTube videos. He even follows other YouTube groupies. He now has his own email account that my husband reluctantly helped to set-up. He has been communicating with friends that he just saw an hour earlier. On the plus side, he can send emails to his grandparents and cousin who live out of state.
Ok…let’s step on the brakes and slow this down.
With this in mind, my husband and I have set some rules. My son is not to post his image, name, age, where we live or anything personal. He is to show us if he receives any contact by a stranger. Plus, now that school is starting, we will restrict his time on the computer. We will also monitor his grades. If he begins to slip in any areas, the computer privileges will cease.
Kids are bombarded with so much information and they want to take part in it all. On one hand, it’s great that they embrace the technology and want to learn about it.
I on the other hand, I love when my children want to snuggle up and read a book together. At least, I have a few more years of that!
Here’s a few tips to keep your kids’ technology use under control:
- Remind kids that use of technology is a privilege, not a right.
- Set a family media policy—decide who can use which forms of technology, when and where it’s acceptable, and how you will monitor usage.
- Establish consequences, both positive and negative, for appropriate technology usage.
- Establish “technology-free” zones and times in your home when you all “unplug” and concentrate on communicating with each other and enjoying each other’s company.
- Try a policy of earning technology time. For every hour of reading, they earn a ½ hour of computer or video game time.
- Help your children achieve balance in their lives by encouraging them to stay physically active, enjoy reading, and learn to relax and have fun without electronics.