Would you call yourself Tech Savvy? Navigating technology is a challenge and if it is a challenge for me, then how much more challenging must it be for my kids? I don’t even know where to begin with navigating technology WITH my kids!
The Hard Truth
Here is the terrible truth too. Technology isn’t going anywhere, it’s here to stay. It really is such a big part of our lives from work to social aspects, it is a big part of everyone’s lives. It is also a large part of our kid’s lives. If you think about it, our kids don’t know a world without technology; it has always been a part of their world. It is all consuming and surrounds them at every turn. They have grown up with it. And if it is my job to help parent them through this world, shouldn’t that also include helping them navigate this technological world?
I want to be the one they come to with questions, versus friends, as they utilize and navigate technology. If I want them to have a positive relationship with technology, then it is up to me to help them navigate this time and create healthy boundaries. I can do that in several different ways.
Establishing Healthy Boundaries
No Phones at the Table
Technology or specifically our phones can become an addiction. In our household, we have a couple of boundaries surrounding our phones and technology at the table. One of our boundaries is no phones at the dinner table. Our dinner table is family time. There is nothing that is that urgent that it needs to interrupt our conversations around the table. Now this isn’t always easy…especially with a smartwatch. Anyone else? I have been caught several times, with a wandering eye to my watch as a text or email notification comes through to me. You got me! I didn’t just check the time. It is super easy for me to slip up on this family boundary!
No Phones in the Bedroom
Another family boundary we have in our household is that there are no phones in the bedroom at night. Bedrooms are for sleep. I know there are a lot of apps that help us sleep at night, or maybe our kids like to listen to music to sleep at night. But if that was all that it was as the years went on, then great! However, in our family it can start with just one thing and progress into just talking with a friend, to watching videos all night and affecting school work. We decided there were other ways to listen to music or whatever else is needed to get to sleep at night then our phones.
Phones Get Checked In
In our household, we all check our phones in for the night in the kitchen. Nothing is that urgent that it can’t wait ’til the morning. Because really what good news comes in the middle of the night anyway? So that goes for me too! At the end of the night, my phone is checked in next to the kid’s phones for the night by a certain hour and I sleep without distraction.
Be A Positive Role Model
Monkey see, Monkey do! Oh goodness, this is a hard one! It starts at such an early age too! Have you ever stopped to think, what am I doing or what kind of example am I setting for my kids as you use your technology? Our kids and teens are sponges and are constantly watching us and soaking up everything we do. This can be challenging, especially with email, texting and work able to connect with us 24/7 through our devices. Trust me, I don’t have it all figured out. I am a work in progress! All I can do is learn from my mistakes and keep starting fresh each day. I don’t want my kids to see me tied to my phone, or as a workaholic role model. I want them to enjoy life to the fullest, by establishing a healthy relationship with technology.
Talk Through Healthy Usage Of Technology
Our kids are watching us and watching others, they are taking in so much around them as they grow and mature through the years. I thought to myself, have I ever sat down and talked to them about how to use the technology before just handing them a phone or other electronic device?
Do you realize when you throw a phone or a tablet to your child that they instinctively know what to do with it. Sometimes better than myself! I want to be sure I don’t miss an opportunity to actually talk to them about the power I am providing them.
It might sound silly, but have you ever asked your kids what they are doing with the technology? Or maybe, if they are begging you for a phone, ask them why do they want a phone? Or what apps are they using while on technology? Have you ever tried to play the games or apps with them to share their interests?
My husband still plays games with both of our daughters on the phone after years of introducing it to them. It is something that they can share together. Plus, who doesn’t love to say they “beat” their Dad at whatever game they were playing? By sharing their interests and being involved with how they are utilizing technology, it allows us to bond together with them and if things or situations arise you can talk through them together.
Create A Contract Together
I never had a phone contract with either of my girls, but I have seen and looked over several through the years. This might be a good starting point to get you started as you and your child begin your technology journey together. It creates an agreement between you and your child where certain expectations can be outlined and clearly communicated. Should the expectation be violated, then clear consequences are outlined, such as phone privileges taken away, etc.
Let’s Work Together
It really comes down to you and your child. There is no one right answer or path on this journey. There will be trips and stumbles along the way, but the most important thing is to work through it together. As we all know technology is here to stay. I hope this helps you navigate technology with your kids.