It has never been an easy job being a parent, but trying to shepherd kids through the perils of a society saturated with technology makes it particularly tough to be a parent today. With mobile phones, video games, computers, tablets and the Internet to worry about, your battle to carefully guide your child through the landmines of the Information Age is incredibly difficult. It is important that parents arm themselves with all the knowledge possible so that they can create an effective technology policy for their kids. To help you out, use the following guide to make technology a positive part of your children’s lives.
Compromising on Time Spent in Front of the Screen
The sad thing about bringing kids up today is that many of them will spend nearly every waking hour glued to a screen if you let them. To prevent this, you need to set firm limits on the amount of time they spend staring at screens each day. First, it is important to know that no children under the age of two should spend any time staring at screens. When kids are old enough to enjoy screen time, they should not spend any more than two hours a day of leisure time in front of a screen. The rest of their leisure time needs to be devoted to more wholesome activities such as reading, pursuing the arts, playing sports and exploring the great outdoors.
It is not fair to expect kids to shun their screens altogether, but there must be limits. They should only be able to use devices with screens for leisure activities if they take care of their other responsibilities like chores and schoolwork. Using screen time as an incentive is one of the most potent forms of motivation that parents can employ today. It is always good to have the use of technology as both carrot and stick to motivate positive behaviour in your children.
Encouraging Alternate Activities
When you set restrictions for entertainment screen time use to two hours per day for your kids, they are going to need to find positive ways to spend their newfound free time. The best thing you can do is to find ways to encourage your kids to engage in positive activities. With the rising obesity crisis in Australia, encouraging kids to engage in physical activities is especially important.
Setting a positive example is the best way to motivate your kids to be physically active. Get yourself and the kids some surfboards and hit the waves. Go on family walks every evening. Learn to rock climb together. If you are creative, there is no end to the ways you can have fun getting physically fit with your children.
If your kids exhibit any kind of passion for a sport, you should encourage that passion wholeheartedly. Even if it is a sport you do not like or understand, make sure you are there to support your child’s passion. Any blossoming of desire for physical fitness by kids in today’s technology-obsessed society should be nurtured.
Getting a Smartphone
If you are wondering what age you should give your child a mobile phone, perhaps you should take a page from Bill Gates. The man who gave us the modern PC world thinks kids are using too much technology today. In fact, Gates and his wife Melinda waited until their kids reached age 14 to allow them to use a smartphone. The Gates also restrict the amount of screen time their kids get each day. They set times during the day when their kids are prevented from using their gadgets, like during family dinner. Look to their example when your kids point out that their friends get to use smartphones already. When you do finally cave in and decide it’s the right time to get your youngster a smartphone, don’t go too crazy. Chances are, expensive phone will steal all their attention and end up getting broken anyway. Opt for a cheaper, more simple phone to test the waters – if your kid shows restraint and responsibility, you’ll easily upgrade. This cheap Alcatel worked great for me and it’s under 100$, but you might want to consider something that’s water & shock proof.
Bedtime Screen Restrictions
One of the most important times to prevent your children from using technology is before bedtime. Research shows that being exposed to glowing screens prevents the release of the melatonin necessary to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep is especially important for kids with their growing bodies. You should prevent your children from using their screens within an hour or two of bedtime to help them get a good night’s sleep.
Raising children in a world of smartphones, mobile phones and easy Internet access is not a simple task. You need to be firm with your guidelines and not let your children use their friends as reasons they need to use technology more. Restricting their use of technology early in life will allow kids to grow and have a better chance of success later in life.