Welcome back! Last week I spoke on the benefits of technology in a child’s home and school life. If you didn’t get a chance to read that article, click here to read it!
As a parent myself of a middle schooler, I see how being connected to cell phones, social media, and entertainment sites are a “necessity” in order to stay in the cool group. Some parents may not provide their child with phones, tablets or computers yet… and please know that I understand and agree with providing access when the time is right. However, as much as we as parents want to control what I child does and sees, they are having interaction with technology with or without our approval. It may be monitored interaction or with friends. Either way we, as parents, caretakers, overseers or whatever title you have in your child’s life, have to provide guidance to our child when accessing technology. As mentioned by Judi Warren “The biggest threat on the Internet today is parents that are not involved in their children's use of technology. It takes a unified effort to keep kids safe on the Internet (that) has to begin with parents, because it has to start really young." (CNN article)
Here are some simple yet powerful solutions to help guide your child through the popular technology era:
Educate before you Regulate!
If it has been a while since you last seen what the latest technology, application or even song was, you may need to do some research. Feel free to include your child in this research as well. Have an open conversation to ask them about some of the things that they use or kids around them use on their phones or search for on the internet. Once you have a good list of things, hands on involvement is the best way to learn! Download a few of the apps to see what your child is getting into and/or visit some of the platforms your child access as well as listen to the music they like. Educating yourself, helps you be able to be even more aware of what needs to take place to help your child become more technologically responsible.
One of my previous articles spoke ALL about moderation and setting boundaries. It is easy to become overwhelmed and consumed by technology as an adult - so I can just imagine how it would be for a child. Set curfews and restrictions as to how long and/or when a device can be accessed. Some devices or applications have “training wheels” that will allow parents the ability to manage usage. Just as kids are to get a learners permit to drive before obtaining their license, the same should go for technology. Although there isn’t much physically damage that can be done like an accident, there is emotions and psychological damage that can take place with an ill prepared child.
Along with moderation, parents can use substitutes in order to maintain a healthy balance. For example, when there was something I wanted to research or find more information on, I had to rely on encyclopedias and going to the library to research through catalogs. If I asked the youth of this generation what an encyclopedia was or catalog, the numbers of those that wouldn’t have an idea would be high. I challenge my child to look to the dictionary to find words or go to the library to research information. I know to some this may seem like a waste of time but I feel like I am teaching my child:
Critical Thinking Skills
Since of Independency
The ability to adapt to any environment
Self Innovation and creativity
Overall, technology is a beautiful thing (or I would not have decided to have a career in this field) and can definitely help make this world a better place, however, there is so much more to this world we live in besides technology.. We just have to do our part as parents, educators and mentors to coach our children to respect and be responsible with technology.