Technological advances have changed the world a great deal. Gone are the days when kids used to play themselves to sleep. In the current world, technology has taken over, and children cannot be simply prevented from accessing it. Our kids use technology at school, at home, while interacting with friends at home, and when seeking entertainment.
It is not easy for a parent to control how children use phones, video games, or the internet. However, all is not lost. There are steps you can take as a parent or guardian to check on their technology use. To a parent, knowing how your kids spend their time is important. Failure to curtail their freedom might even reduce the time you see them as a parent robbing you of the parent-child bonding. As such, there has to be time for everything.
The following are ways you can use to balance your kids’ usage of tech gadgets:
Be a good role model
Children are known to learn from their immediate environment. In their early age, the home is the immediate environment they encounter. For instance, spending too much time on Facebook or other social media as the children watch is likely to affect their behaviors. Instead, you could start by limiting your media usage. When you spend less time on the phone, you are likely to create more time for personal contact with the kids. There can be hugging, storytelling, and even helping the kids with their homework.
Find a reasonable compromise for time spent in front of the screen
The time children spend in front of the TV, computer, or smartphones should concern you. Nowadays, most children have lost their playful nature because they just sit on the sofa and watch. You can solve this problem by:
- Knowing the risks that come with too much screen time: spending too much time on the screen denies the children a chance to develop the social skills that can only be acquired through face to face interactions. The kids are also exposed to inappropriate images and stories.
- Deciding what comes before screen time: As a control measure, you can set specific duties or chores for the kids to complete before they can watch. You can set specific assignment targets depending on a child’s age, maturity, and sex. This will keep them engaged and allow you to get home and supervise what they are watching.
- Know the options that can work with your child and use them: Several options can be applied to curtail screen time on kids. They include disabling the device, setting security passwords, and parental controls.
Encourage your kids to do other fun activities like sports and art
Children need to grow in all aspects. Activities like sports help make their bones stronger. You can talk to your child about having a specific time to play with his/her siblings or other children. If there is no one to play with, consider accompanying the child to a community playground and have some fun together.
Art can also be a constructive way of utilizing a child’s free time. Make available pencils, colors, and manila papers to help your child draw. During their free time, children can draw and wait for the parent’s approval later on. Compliments will make the child want to become better. The desire to become an artist will reduce the time spent on phones or computers.
The right time for phones
A child in the current world gets exposed to phones, cameras, and other personal gadgets at a young age. A typical parent wants to document a child’s first step, smile, and laugh.
Children as young as 2 years are high-tech mimics and will easily relate with basic cause-and-effect apps on phones. By the age of 5, kids can play video games with family members and use the internet under supervision. As the children grow older, they may need phones. It may not be advisable, however, to buy them smart phones before the onset of teenage.
You can buy them simple phones to call or text their friends as they need to focus on their studies. The smartphones should come later into teenage when the children are able to plan their time without much supervision. If you absolutely must get them a smartphone earlier, don’t go too crazy: a simple, cheap smartphone will be the best bet, until they mature a bit and show they can take care of the phone responsibly. Another reason why iPhone or Samsung Galaxy is a poor choice for a first phone is because those are premium models with tons of features that, let’s be honest, will probably overwhelm and distract your child. You can start off with something simple like Alcatel Pixi (it’s under 100 dollars) and upgrade later on.
Bond with the children and spend time together
Most children get internet frenzy because they lack someone to guide them. Parents need to spend time with them by playing both physical and internet games together. When you play together, you can use the chance to show good sportsmanship and gaming etiquette to your kids. You need to ensure the value of face to face communication is felt in your home. Inviting your kids to participate on video chats with grandparents, relatives, and friends who live far away will improve the parent-child relationship. With a good relationship, it will be easier to set guidelines for internet use.
Technology will always be a part of us. All we can do is to guide our children to live positively with it. Kids will always be kids, and as such, they may not follow the set guidelines. However, we need to help them understand that when used moderately, technology can be integrated in our lives without being a negative disruptor.