Families across the planet are increasingly using technological devices. We look at the top ways families can develop healthy tech habits.
Parents use tech gadgets for an array of reasons, for example, social media, work, studies, and entertainment.
Kids, on the other hand, mostly use technological devices for online gaming (three-quarters of children between the age of 5 and 15 playing games do it online), YouTube, OTT television services (Netflix, Amazon Prime video, etc.), and social media.
According to a Pew Research survey, 95% of teenagers now own or have access to a smartphone. Social media takes up a bulk of their smartphone use, with 45 percent saying that they are online almost every time!
As dire as that may sound, without proper mitigation measures, it can always get worse. See, teens are not the only people who can get hooked to tech devices, parents and kids of other ages are in this category as well. So, being a parent and the head of your family, here are things you can do to keep your household from being sucked into virtual reality.
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1. Work on Your Bad Tech Habits First
Let’s face it. If you are ever online for whatever reason and you’re trying to tell the rest of the family to reduce their devices use, you are not going to be as successful in your aims to build healthy habits in your family. Doing what you preach against breeds a contradiction that is sure to make it hard for you to enforce your rules. So, to guide your family accordingly, accept your bad habits, change them, and then set regulations for your family regarding the use of the computer, smartphone, TV, etc.
2. Encourage by Creating and Sticking to a Device Curfew
Come up with and implement a device curfew, for example, from 9 pm to 9 am, when to use all tech gadgets is prohibited. You can take things a step further by asking every family member to surrender their device to a specific drawer (a lockable one will be handier) during the curfew.
By implementing this curfew at the said hours, a significant portion of the remaining hours will ensure face-to-face communication and allow other bonding activities. You’ll eliminate the urge to check your device and getting drawn into Facebook stories and such. And best of all, a curfew will teach your children not to check their devices often, thus, helping to fight phone addiction.
3. Know Everything About Your Kids’ Online Activities and Tech Habits
Just as you know everything about your child’s real-life environment, you should be aware of their online setting. Make a point of acquainting yourself with your kid’s online friends, the platforms they access, the applications they operate, the sites they visit, and the software they are using. Moreover, it will help to find out what they do while online. All this is in a bid to understand your kids better and guide them accordingly. Note, do not be very intrusive lest you provoke your child to adopt cunny reactive measures.
4. Make Realistic Rules When Limiting Tech for Kids
“With the number of hours that children spend online more than doubling from an average of 8 hours per week to almost 19 hours per week in only 10 years, it’s not unwarranted to start talking about limiting screen time. However, we still have to be realistic to ensure the well-being of our kids,” says Jeena Decker, a success coach at ResumeEdge.
We are in the age of technology, meaning we cannot live without it, but should rather use it responsibly. Therefore, we have to appreciate that we cannot divorce children and technology in this era, but are able to manage only the effects of technology on children. According to JAMA research, children’s language and literacy skills are undermined with more screen use. To mitigate this, parents have to limit their kids’ screen time but not eliminate it completely. By taking this realistic approach, the adverse effects of technology on child development can be controlled while also allowing them to enjoy the better quality of life brought about by tech.
5. Manage Your Kid’s Tech Habits by Filtering Content
Cutting out tech time is not effective if your kids still have access to harmful content whenever it is time to use their devices. So, be sure to ponder on various filtering options to ensure that your kids always access age-appropriate material. Some of the typical solutions you will come across include blocking some websites/ apps and taking time to sample the online games or media that your kids access to ensure they are friendly.
6. No Phone for Kids Between 18 and 24 Months
“At every developmental stage for a child, the presence of screens — the term is “technoference” — is having profound consequences,” shares Arianna Huffington, the Founder, and CEO at Thrive Global.
Children that fall within this age should not be allowed to have access to phones most of the time. However, if they have to watch any form of digital media, an adult must be present since kids of this age learn by observing people and conversing.
For children between two and five years, phones and other digital media can be availed for at most an hour. And during this time, the kids should access high-quality child-friendly applications or programs.
7. Parents Shouldn`t Use Tech to Calm Their Kids
Whenever your kids throw a tantrum, do not rush to give them a phone, tablet, or switch on the TV to calm them. This way, you will teach them how to manage their emotions better and offer an opportunity to explore other ways of handling their anger or boredom besides tech devices.
8. Research Every “App for Kids” before Availing It to Your Child
Many kids using technology today can be attributed due to some applications being labeled as “for kids.” However, as the research has shown, not many of these apps are actually excellent for children. Consider using platforms such as Common Sense Media to gather adequate information on the age-appropriateness of the games, programs, and apps available for children.
9. Create Tech -Free Zones in Your Home
Another excellent way to cultivate healthy tech habits in the house is to designate areas where devices are not to be used. It could be the dining area, the living room, home library, and so forth. This way, when your kids or other family members come to these locations, they will have to keep their gadgets away and focus on studying, work, or face-to-face conversation.
10. Educate Your Children on the Dangers of Predators and Sexting
Children, especially teenagers, should be warned against the dangers of sending inappropriate pictures and messages to people they meet online. As we all know, once something is out there, it can never be taken back. Moreover, they should be informed that sexual predators do exist and can be found anywhere online, for example, via email, chatrooms, online games, etc.
The First Step for Healthy Tech Habits Is Already Taken
To conclude, we have to appreciate that media and digital gadgets are here to stay. Therefore, as the head of the family, you have to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to handling issues related to children and screen time. You do not want to start scolding and effecting punitive measures to your child, yet you did nothing to protect them in the first place. Luckily, with the tips you have learned here, you have already taken a step in the right direction.
What are your healthy tech tips that you use in your family? Tell us in the comments below.