Our children love smart phones, tablets, laptops and even desktops. We are a society that loves television, live streaming, gaming, social media and even just shopping online. In the times we are in we will not be able to banish media and the digital age, but counteracting some of the disadvantages of spaced out gaming, digital surfing, and even online learning are a must for parents today.
1. Set Boundaries
First and foremost if you want less digitally obsessed children, you have to set boundaries. You are the parent after all. Boundaries can be something as simple as insisting that there are no digital devices at the meal table, during family time or at bedtime. These are all healthy restrictions that promote family time at the forefront and start to drive media to a secondary spot. Designate a spot in your home to place smart phones, tablets and other devices during restricted hours.
2. Let Them Know There Are Requirements
Set up a contract with your children. If you are paying for the Wi-Fi or have purchased the device, let them know who is in charge. If the device was a gift or your child purchased it themselves, let them know that the use of said device and media time is a privilege and not a right. Setting these boundaries up front with your own expectations for their use is a very wise idea.
3. Keep Them Safe, Be Nosy
Yes your children should have some privacy; however, you should have passwords. In the times we live in it is imperative that we keep our children safe. Simply allowing them free rain access to the web and social media without any restrictions is not exercising responsibility. Make a list of the passwords somewhere and randomly check to make sure that they have not been changed. Even if you never utilize this tool, it is in your parental toolbox and may keep your children from making some mistakes as they know you can access anything.
4. Become Their “Friend” and “Follow” them
If your child is on Face book, Twitter, Instagram and the like, set up your own account and be sure to “Friend” and “Follow” your children. If they will not allow you to do this, they should not be allowed to use the platform.
5. Require movement
Begin with setting times, for instance, if you allow your child 1 hour of digital media; require a 20-30 minute break of physical activity before allowing them to binge on more media. During the break have the physical be something fun, a quick dance off, a round of jumping outdoors on a trampoline or brisk walking/racing up and down the driveway. If a smart phone is the medium of choice, require physical activity while texting, scrolling, or whatever your child does most. Your child just might surprise you with their ability to walk while texting or scrolling.
The amount of responsibility mounded on parents today to protect, engage, and involve our children in the non-digital world is infinitely more challenging than in past generations. However, if we do not get involved we will regret the digitally obsessed, anti social and out of shape offspring that we have allowed our children to become. The Digital revolution has its merits and demerits when it comes parenting, it has become parents responsibility in clearing the noise for our own kids to embrace the positive side of it.