Screen technology is here to stay. It’s in your house and it’s in my house. We can't throw it out, ignore it, or pretend it isn't here. While we were quick to acknowledge the benefits (information at the click of a key! ‘friends’ around the world!), we didn’t notice the downside until it smacked us in the face.
Now we have kids who are more engaged with their screens than with their families. Teens, who naturally pull away from their parents as part of the developmental process, are disappearing into a world that parents aren’t even aware of. Elementary aged children have smart phones that allow them to cruise sites we would never allow them to see if we knew what was going on. And the bullying that used to be out in the open is now being texted, so parents don’t necessarily know what is happening.
How to take control of technology so it doesn’t take control of your family?
- Before you provide any new screens, understand their capabilities. Remember, a smart phone has the same reach as a computer. At what age do you think your child is ready for unlimited access to the internet?
- Set limits and consequences for all pieces of technology, and follow through. (Will your child thank you if you take away a piece of technology? NO! But they won’t die, either. Stand strong and do the right thing.)
- Create screen free times. Screen friends are in the moment; family is forever. Turn off every screen that has a battery or electric cord and spend time together. (This means your screens, too.)
- Teach proper netiquette. Kids need to know that once it’s out there, it’s there forever. Let them know that if they wouldn’t say it or show it to you or their teacher, it shouldn’t be on a screen.
- Parents are the role models. If we want our kids to know that they are more important than screens, then we have to put those screens away and create the opportunity to build relationship.
- Cell phones, ipads, ipods, computers, etc. are not a right. They are a privilege. As parents our job now is to teach our children that with privileges comes increased responsibility. If we don’t do it, who will?