With increased electronic devices and internet technology, it is possible to access entertainment from almost everywhere. It is amazing how technology has increased so much since we were kids. Technology has increased to even include the panel that is supposed to control a refrigerator! From iPhone, iPad, tablets, computers, laptops, TVs, gaming consoles and many more, our kids are literally trapped in the world of technology.
Too much of this could have huge disadvantages for children. We do not even know all the effects it can have on children due to how new so many pieces of technology are. The internet itself is only 30 years old!
If not well monitored, our children can be exposed to harmful programs via many of these electronic devices. With new content every day, it becomes harder for us parents to keep monitoring what these kids are looking at all the time. So how do we limit the time they spend behind the screens without creating havoc?
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Establish technology-free zones in the house
This is a powerful method for a family that can have long-lasting benefits. The idea of this is to have some place in the house where no electronic devices are allowed. For instance, under no circumstances do we allow anything electronic at our dinner table. Instead, we spend the dinnertime together eating and catching up. It is amazing to have the time to go over what is going on in each other’s lives during this period of time we get.
It can be helpful to ban technology from the whole kitchen instead of just the kitchen table. There are many studies about how eating while being on technology can have consequences such as over-eating. This will get your kids into a practice of separating food from technology.
To decide which rooms in your house should become a technology-free zone, take a week to try to witness where technology is the most detrimental in the house. Maybe it is the kitchen, but maybe for your family, it is bedrooms. Each family is different. Take some time to really observe your family before establishing these zones.
Do not give them their own devices
I know it is tempting to buy them their own phones or PCs. There are even some really logical reasons, such as safety reasons. However, hold onto that gift a little longer. This will limit the time they have to access these electronic devices. There are things such as GPS watches if you are worried about safety.
Create a strict schedule
You should have a schedule that is strict and followed by everyone. For instance, no TV after a certain time for the child. When they are aware of the schedule, they won’t feel violated when you take away the device after the time expires.
This actually goes for the adults too.
Lead by example
You do not expect your kids to stop looking at electronic devices if you are always doing so yourself. Remember that most life lessons are “caught not taught”. If you impose strict guidelines on your child but are on your technology device all the time, the child will grow bitter and try to find all the ways around the rules. Give yourself a break from them and let the kids understand that everyone needs to take a break from the screens. Take some time and make sure you are being healthy with technology before you expect your children to.
Talk to them
If you start imposing technology rules suddenly without explanation, it will lead the kids to be confused, and even angry about what is going on. Children need to know the “why” behind everything. This will be the healthiest for children to continue with what you have set up if they understand the meaning behind it all.
This is a great time to be honest with your children. Let them know about the dangers of watching too much TV or spending too much time on the internet. Also, encourage them to watch educational programs whenever they decide to watch.
Set some tech-free family time
Do not simply start banning technology here and there. Instead, try replacing technology with other activities. One great way to do this would be to set aside some family time that does not involve using electronic devices. Use this time to give each other attention and have fun as a family. Hopefully, after a few weeks, they will become so accustomed to this and even look forward to it.
Use parental control
Whenever your kids do access TV or the internet when you are not close to monitor, make sure there are systems in place so you never have to worry. A great way to do this is to use parental control. By doing this, it will ensure that they are not exposed to harmful stuff. This is also a great way to make sure that your child is not getting bullied online. Some children will not want to talk about that, so by setting up controls, you can make sure of this. You can always download an app that locks specific sites online, giving the kids access to less harmful content.
I recommend letting your kids know that there are parental controls on it. It is not helpful for your child to feel “spied on”. If you explain all the reasons you do it, your children will learn that you want the internet to be a safe place for them.
Find other ways of having fun
Try to be creative and find other ways of having fun as a family that does not involve always reaching to a screen. You can play with their toys or play games as a family.
Use technology to control technology
Download applications or set timers that will automatically lock or shut down these screens after a certain time period. Let the kids know that they are timed and when the devices shut down they will have to wait until the next day to access again. This will be able to easily control the amount spent in front of these screens.
Have a compromise
Let them spend time on their screens only after they have accomplished something. They will treat this as a reward and value it more because the access is limited.