How does technology fit into your family?
For many of families, technology has become an integral part of the daily routine. It may start with your smart phone waking you up in the morning, your playlist supplying the soundtrack to your home and driving life. Many of your family members may use computers at school, work and back at home. Does your tablet provide the recipe for dinner? Are kids checking the web for their homework and submitting projects online? Do you stay in touch with emails, texts and tweets? What about gaming, watching sports, movies, TV? Has a charging station been integrated into the decor in your home?
Technology is pervasive. Some feel that it is taking over the lives of children and adults everywhere. This implies that we are victims, foregoing any responsibility for the current situation. Instead, Parenting Power suggests that families take responsibility for what is happening with technology in the home. Look at it head on; make decisions that fit your values and Parent with a Plan™.
What are kids watching?
When kids are little, monitoring what they play and watch is very easy. As they age, screen time tends to increase as does their time away from home. Boundaries becomes trickier to enforce.
Sharing values with your kids, along with watching and discussing content is a more realistic place to start. Encourage everyone in the family to become more aware of how much time is being spent in front of a screen and create a plan for the amount of daily time permitted, along with consequences when kids fail to take responsibility to meet those limits. Hold your kids accountable.
What are you sharing?
Are you over-sharing about your kids on social media? Has it gone from posting the odd cute thing to tweeting about every mark, story and funny comment? When kids are mentioned online, they are being put under a magnifying glass. If it is okay to tweet about their good marks, what about the bad ones too? Why or why not? Do 3 year olds really need a happy birthday wish on Facebook? Do they have their own account? Please be aware of what you are sharing and why you are sharing it.
What are you missing?
This is perhaps the most important question to ask. In a recent post, Are Opportunity Costs Children’s Real Problem with Technology? Dr. Jim Taylor really lays it on the line,
Opportunity costs are typically defined as time spent on one thing is time not spent doing something else of greater value. Applied to technology, when time is devoted screens, there are costs in terms of the loss of potential benefits that might be gained from other activities in which we might engage.
“A 2009 Kaiser Foundation survey found that children 8-18 years old spend more than 7.5 hours a day in front of non-school-related screens (e.g., TV, video games, movies, tablets, smartphones). What specifically are children losing out on with their substantial tech time? Let me count the ways: sleep (kids aren’t getting enough), exercise (ditto), diet (kids in front of screens eat more junk food), direct human interaction (less of it), play (old-school style), arts (which may hurt creativity), homework (not doing enough of it or staying up late finishing it), and attention to and from their parents (the more, the better).”
If any of the above is important to you (and we really hope that they are,) you have to make the time to create a technology plan for your family. It is as simple (not necessarily easy) as living your true priorities. Your kids deserve it!