Updated: Nov 18, 2020
Do you struggle with your kids and technology?
Do you wish you could put in boundaries but are wary to do so?
You are not alone. This is a common problem. One that the majority of parents today are facing. It's okay to be concerned. This is not a reflection on your parenting. It is today's world.
It's great that you have come looking for help.
The good news is that you can learn to handle it, gain more confidence and get on top of it.
This article talks about the growing problem and how you can help your child and still maintain your relationship with them.
What are the problems?
Technology has crept up on us fairly quickly. It has come into our lives rapidly and we are having to adjust. There has been a big leap this year with Covid. Technology has been in schools for some time and increasing . This year, with lockdown, all children have been required to use technology all day. Parents are citing technology as making parenting harder.
There have been studies showing negative effects of today's technological world and these are often in the media. There are detrimental effects parents worry about - like bullying, harming the ability to develop interpersonal skills health effect and behavioural effects of gaming.
The positive advantages of technology often go under the radar.
Devices can be a very useful tool. We have provided our children with the device for their safety - to contact us when they are out and about. Thereby giving them more freedom. It helps them to learn and connect. It offers more connection avenues for socially introverted or awkward kids - in the safety of their own home.
Research shows parents are divided when it comes to whether they feel it hinders children's creativity and pursuit of hobbies. On balance parents feel devices are more harmful than beneficial.
The advantage of managing children's device time
For some children they will be spending a good proportion of their working life in front of a screen. If you can help them to monitor and control their behaviour now then they will be at an advantage as they grow up . Use this time as a learning stage.
Devices as disciplinary tools
It is all too easy to use devices as a disciplinary method. In the past you 'grounded' kids or took away television. Now you take their devices away. Consider the message this is sending to them. Consider if you want to create device usage as a negative tool. Your parents probably found it easier to use television as a punishment tool. A frustration for you may be that you have less control over the devices. It may be easier for your child to be sneaky and disobey.
Parenting is more effective when it is positive parenting. Removing items for behaviour you don't approve of is not the best option. Positive parenting uses different methods to increase behaviour we want to see more and decrease behaviour we don't want.
Why high device use occurs?
It's an addictive behaviour.
Remember that as adults many of us are on our phones all the time too. Many adults are hooked on social media. Consider what you are modelling for your children. 56% of parents say that they themselves are on their phones too much.
What can you do to relieve this problem.
* Ask yourselves, as parents, what your fears are. Remember - all of your fears are real and valid. Break it down - is it gaming? photos? fear of bullying? addiction? inappropriate content? voice activation.
There are some really dangers - hone in on ones that may affect you and your family.
* Maybe you, as parents/caregivers, overuse technology and devices. Have you already learnt ways to balance that up - with outdoor time, games time, social time in real life. These are all things to model to your children. Consider what you want your child to do instead. When they aren't on their screens, what's on offer that's scintillating, social, active, fun, fulfilling and mind stretching for them. Part of your discussion needs to include enticing alternatives.
* Be interested in what they are doing on line.
Check out what it is they are doing and break it down. Divide it into sections - social
media, watching YouTube, watching programmes, TikTok,
* Check that your assessment of their time on the device is correct.
Your child's usage can begin to consume you.
You become more aware of them using their device and get more triggered.
* Consider whether your child would come to you and tell you if they are being bullied.
Check out what your child knows about protecting themselves and safety on line.
* Your aim, remember, is to enable them establish healthy habits.
* Be aware of your expectations. Consider the limits you are comfortable with.
Once you have full checked in with yourselves and discussed it as parents you are
ready to have discussions with your child.
* The aim is to reach agreements. Letting them be part of the discussion and decision
making process shows respect for them. You are aiming to agree a few rules. 3-5
rules is good. Make them positive and clearly defined.
The rules may include what the usage is, how long and when.
Be mindful of respecting their wishes too.
For example allowing them to be on social chat when their friends are off line wont
work well in practice.
This is a new age where technology is prevalent. Adults and children alike are learning how to manage it. Your goal is to help your children. Model the behaviour you would like and teach them how to do so for themselves. Have respectful discussions and come to agreements on usage and help them to stick to the rules.