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Shaping How Children Use Technology

Shaping How Children Use Technology

Technology addiction; I have heard this term used to describe toddlers, preschoolers and school-aged kids and their obsession with electronic devices.  Personally, I feel the term has no merit as we, the parents are the ones who allow and dictate how long they use these devices.

This digital trend is on the rise, and whether we like it or not we have to embrace technology and take advantage of all the benefits they offer our children.

These devices are a vital tool offering thousands of applications readily available to cater not only to our children’s favorite characters but also to their individual learning styles and needs.  We need to take advantage of their desire to learn through these different platforms and spend quality time building them up and praising their talents.

For me, technology is a medium that is embraced in my home. Both my husband and I use it daily and is a means for each of us to run our businesses. I would be lying if I did not on occasion hand over the iPad to my son to keep him entertained while I met a deadline, made dinner or was on an important phone call.

The issue regarding these devices is not about taking these devices away but about setting limits and creating a balance between their digital and real worlds.

Below are just some tips to help create a healthy technology/family life balance.

  • Live in the moment.  Put the phone down, stop updating your status on a social network and simply enjoy what is right in front of you. Children grow up fast, and the constant ‘let me take a picture’ or ‘wait let me put it on Facebook’ interrupts the moment and in my opinion, doesn’t allow for anyone to enjoy the important moments that are happening.
  • Set limits. Decide how long you will allow your child to use the device, set the time and hold them responsible if they do not abide by your rules. Monitor the time they use the device and the content they are are accessing.
  • Model responsible use and pay attention. It is imperative to teach our children how to properly use technology.  We need to be cautious and attentive to how our children are interacting with the device and that they are taught responsibility as these devices are not toys.
  • Monitor use and set parental control. If your devices allow you to set up parental control definitely do so.  There are so much inappropriate content lingering on the web that children should not be allowed to access.  If your device does not have that capability then set up your own controls. Limit what they access and monitor their use.
  • Limit what devices they can use. If you do not want your child handling your phone because they may accidentally delete vital information or see/read something not meant for their eyes, then don’t let them use it in the first place. My son is banned from using my smartphone and my husband’s. He knows our phones are for his entertainment.
  • Leave the device at home. Going out to dinner as a family, leave the tablet behind and spend time talking and connecting with your child. We can learn so much from them if we shut off the noise and just listen.
  • Use technology to create memories. Take advantage of the technology to store the memories created with your loved ones. Store them, share them and have them easily accessible.

These tools have changed how we consume content and how we take in information, but what technology can not show our children is how to exhibit love, show feelings or share human interaction.  It is our job as parents to fill in the blanks with those life lessons that will help shape our children's lives.

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