Technology is a way of life for kids. They use it for everything from simple communication with family and friends to entertainment to school-related tasks.
And the numbers prove it. In the course of just one minute, YouTube users upload 48 hours of new video content. Facebook users share over 680,000 pieces of content. More than 2 million Google searches occur. And over 200 million email messages are sent. And did you know teenagers send on average over 3,000 texts every month?
Many experts believe all that technology is influencing our children’s belief systems and, with it, their behaviors. Their brains are being re-wired to believe that choice is a fundamental right, instead of a privilege. Give them an instruction at home or at school, and they believe they have the right to choose between other options.
In addition, computers, videogames, and mobile devices are inhibiting their ability to invest in real relationships with real people.
All of which begs the question: How can parents help their child avoid spending too much time online?
Some parents react by swinging the pendulum in the opposite direction and pulling the plug on technology altogether. That could be an appropriate consequence if the problem grows severe enough, but I wouldn’t recommend that it be the first step. Instead, it’s usually best to help your child develop the ability to manage their own technology use.
For example, a great place to start is giving them reasonable time limits.
We also want to model proper time management ourselves. It’s hard to convince a child the importance of limiting their time online if the parent doesn’t limit theirs.
Also, consider replacing the “bad” with something “good.” In other words, the hours your child no longer spends with technology need to be replaced with a positive alternative, like books, puzzles, or activity outside.
And don’t forget the most powerful thing you can do: be actively engaged in your child’s world. Teach them how to live with balance, and they’ll learn a skill that’ll positively impact their life far beyond their use of technology.
If you’re noticing more and more screens lighting up your home, I think you’ll enjoy our discussion our program, “Managing Technology’s Impact on Your Kids.” Today we’re running part two of this helpful broadcast. Our guest is author and founder of Celebrate Kids, Inc., Dr. Kathy Koch.