Parenting: Your Child and Technology
I often hear parents say that they are frustrated that their children are always using their computers, game boxes, or other technology instead of doing the things that parents think they should be doing.
It is easy for children to get caught up in the fascinating effects of technology that is specifically designed to capture their attention. In fact, technology can be addictive!
As a parent, you must know and do specific things to protect your family and children from the temptation of the technological world:
1. Computers are often needed for homework, but the child may not do homework for six hours straight. I would be very cautious in stating that technology can be used as often and for as long as the child decides they want to use it. (Oh, and don’t believe for a second that your child is doing homework the entire time the power button is on.)
2. Using technology as a reward or at select times is better than trying to take it away. If your child thinks technology is there all the time, he will be angry when it is taken away as punishment. Let your child earn 30 minute chores coupons and limit the number of coupons he can redeem each day. They will work enthusiastically to gain their computer time instead of waiting for it while neglecting their tasks.
3. Not everyone has an iPhone, Xbox, or laptop. Your child will not be the ONLY one you will have to do without. Don’t be emotionally manipulated into thinking your child is disadvantaged because you say so.
4. Ignorance is not an acceptable excuse for you to be a negligent parent. Saying you don’t understand software or technology is not a good excuse! Take a course or, better yet, sit with your child and ask him to show you what he is doing. You will learn and have a better idea of their activities.
5. Paying for technology is not love. I once met with a father whose son was failing in school, but he paid for the 2,400 text messages she had sent that month. No wonder his grades were bad! You don’t need to buy tech or buying plans for kids and it can even stop them from doing their school work. Consider very seriously whether a piece of equipment or software will help your child before you buy it.
6. Technology has risks. Do you know why your teenager is in the bedroom with the door closed with a video camera and a computer? Predators are adept at communicating with children, and you can’t be naive about it. Keep all computers in common areas of the house where you can properly supervise.
7. You can and should control your child’s activities. When a child asks you “Don’t you trust me?” the answer is no. “If they want to do things in secret, it is an indication that they are doing something that you probably would not approve of.
8. You need to be in control. There is software that can be programmed to shut down a computer at your request. The “babysitting programs” prevent children from going to risky places. Review the posts your child makes on Facebook and confront the child about the things that concern him. For example, it is not acceptable for them to use inappropriate language or talk to people they do not know. Also, look at the date and time of the posts and you will soon find out if there is a violation of the rules you have set for computer use. (Posting after midnight is never acceptable.)
9. You set the example. Do you walk with a cell phone to your ear? Can you enjoy the silence or must there always be “noise” in the room? If you go out to dinner, do you text or answer calls while ignoring others at your table? How many movies do you watch each week? If you kept track of your tech hours, would you rate yourself as a good example for your child?
10. There is life outside of technology. People need to talk to other people face to face and not just through social media. Membership in clubs, walking the dog, playing sports, and doing housework are important aspects of life. Don’t let yourself or your child become so ingrained in technology that you miss out on other important activities.
I don’t care how smart your son is or how much you love him. As a parent, you are responsible for protecting him. It’s better to have a good plan for how and when the technology will be used than to try to clean up the mess after your child is addicted, victimized, or isolated.
If you don’t know what’s going on, find out. If you have opposition from the child, worry. If you are really wondering what to do, see a psychologist who will help you put together a plan that will help you in this area of parenting.