7 Ways to Teach Your Kids Healthy Tech Habits
As a parent, you care about your child’s well-being. But in today’s technologically advanced world, it’s difficult to raise kids when so much of their time is spent online.
You might want to monitor everything your child does, online and in real life. Ultimately, though, you can’t. All you can do is teach your kids best practices when handling technology. Whether they’re using a kids phone, iPad, or computer, your children need rules so they don’t form unhealthy attachments to their tech devices.
In this article, we offer six tips to help parents teach their kids healthy tech habits.
1. Discuss the Dangers of Technology
It’s never too early to teach kids safe practices for using technology. The earlier you start, the more prepared your children will be. Teach your kids why they shouldn’t talk to strangers online and the dangers of spending too much time there, period.
Due to the pandemic, people have been spending more and more hours online. And technology has become even more crucial in our day-to-day lives. While there are many benefits to integrating tech into our lifestyles, there are also negatives.
Digital addiction is a real threat. Children need to know they can survive without staring at their screens all day. As a parent, it’s your job to teach kids the good, the bad, and the ugly of technology. That way, they can have a healthy relationship with it when they grow up.
2. Make Tech Time Family Time
It’s a good idea to monitor your children when they’re using their tech devices to make sure they aren’t getting into trouble. The best way to do that is by making tech time a family affair. Engage with your children online. Watch funny videos with them on YouTube or let them teach you how to play their favorite video game.
By getting involved with your child’s tech experiences, they’ll learn how to communicate their activities with you. This makes it more likely that you’ll be able to have conversations about their tech use when they get older. Spending less time wondering what they’re up to online will give you peace of mind.
3. Don’t Use Technology As a Distraction
Technology should not be a pacifier for your children. Yes, these devices can keep kids occupied when you need a few minutes of peace. Using tech to calm your children down, though, can mess with their understanding of technology. That’s what will happen if you hand them an iPad every time they throw a tantrum.
Children need to know that tech isn’t a reward for bad behavior — or even good behavior. These devices are resources, not emotional crutches. As challenging as it might be, talk to your children when they’re upset, instead of putting on a movie. This way, when they grow up, they won’t automatically turn to technology to distract them from real-life problems.
4. Focus on Quality Screen Time
A lot of times, parents focus on what age their children should or shouldn’t be introduced to technology. The truth is, every child is different. There’s no perfect age to hand your kid an electronic device.
In the 1990s, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended no screen time for children under two years old. Those guidelines have since changed. Some experts now say it’s OK for children under two years old to video chat and watch certain programs.
The guidelines will likely continue to change as technology becomes more advanced. So instead of focusing on your kids’ age, focus on what kind of tech you’re exposing them to. Make sure the content is of high quality, not just something you’re using to distract them.
5. Set Limits As a Family
As with any activity, children need limits to ensure they’re spending their time wisely. You want to raise well-rounded kids, and that entails making certain they have a good mix of online and offline time.
To do that, you should set limits on tech use and insist that your entire family abide by them. For example, have everyone turn off their personal devices when eating dinner as a family or watching a movie together. Have tech-free areas, like the bedroom, where no one — not even mom or dad — can use their devices.
Having uninterrupted tech time is important for kids, as well as adults. That requires using electronic devices in a mindful manner. It’s crucial that children don’t grow up viewing technology as something they can use whenever they want.
6. Be a Good Role Model
According to a study published in Pediatric Research, parents of young children pick up their phones almost 70 times a day. Before you try to manage your kids’ tech use, you should take a good look at your own.
Children follow their parents’ lead. If you’re using tech from morning to night, your kids will grow up thinking that’s normal. If you’re constantly sharing pictures on social media and documenting your every move, your kids will, too.
Make sure your tech habits are healthy ones so you’re a good role model for your children. Not to mention, the more time you spend distracted by tech, the less attention you’re giving your young children. Whenever possible, put your phone away when you’re with your family.
7. Don’t Rush the Process
Nowadays, technology is everywhere. Because of that, you might feel like you’re holding your kids back if you don’t introduce them to technology at a young age. That’s not true.
The average child gets their first smartphone, with a service plan, at 10 years old. Remember, though, that every child is different and matures at a different rate. Just because your first child was able to handle the responsibility at that age doesn’t mean your second child will. Before introducing your children to technology, it’s important to assess whether they’ve reached an appropriate level of maturity.
Whether you like it or not, we live in a digital world, and your children will need technology to thrive. So when the time is right, don’t be afraid to introduce your kids to technology. While these devices can be dangerous, they’re also necessary. By implementing the tips above, you’ll help ensure your kids stay safe and form healthy relationships with technology.