Once again this year there will be many kids waking Christmas morning to a brand new device, phone, gaming console or shiny new computer. And whilst this can bring great joy and happiness, a few boundaries and some simple rules will help manage their time, their behaviours and their wellbeing, as they embark on their digital journey!
Are they ready for a device?
There can be many factors to take into consideration here and many have been outlined in this previous post I wrote on the appropriate age for social media…..and indeed why age alone should not be the deciding factor.
There can actually be some benefits to giving kids a device at younger ages…..that being the ability to set up good habits and boundaries whilst they are still young enough to recognise this as a privilege and not a right. We can also pay greater attention to their online behaviours and monitoring their content, connections and interactions. Something that can be much harder as kids get older.
A letter from Santa
Adding a few rules from Santa on delivery of the new device can also ensure that the child knows Santa will be watching how they look after their device, manage their screentime and their online behaviours.
You can download your PDF via this Santas Letter post
Set it up safely
Do what you can to make use of the technology that is out there to ensure the device is set up in the safest way possible to prevent them stumbling across dodgy content or being contacted by those who won’t have their best interests at heart. This may mean doing the standard safer search filtering that is available in the settings of google or Youtube, or it may be investing in something that has a more robust filtering and blocking system such as Family Zone.
Here are a few things you can do to set up some safer devices, but remember that every single app or game that goes on a device has a settings button that can allow you to have greater control over the content, the connections or the way the platform is used. So always check them out regularly and make the changes you need for your child (they are rarely set at the safer settings by default so it is something we have to go in and manage regularly).
Stay somewhat relevant
You may never keep up with every app or game or social network that is out there….but you can stay in touch with the sorts of ways kids use their devices. You can monitor the effects it may be having on them, both good and bad, and then how you can work with your child to come up with the best ways to manage and maintain control over their devices and their digital lives.
Understand yourself how the technology works to hook kids in…..and why you shouldn’t be surprised if they have trouble managing their own time limits.
Read this article on Nir Eyals Hooked model as I adapted it to the Fortnite game to understand how gaming and social media creators work to get us all engaged and coming back for more…and how these hooks make it difficult for kids (and adults) to naturally stop their game or to stop scrolling their social media feeds. So as parents we need to help them with that and instil in them some good habits that make it easier for them to transition to the many other experiences they need in their day.
And if you haven’t already, join my Facebook Group “Raising Great Kid in the Digital World” to be kept up to date with the latest trends, behaviours, tips, and get plenty of support from a fabulous group.
Some simple rules and routines
No devices to come to the dinner table…..thats a time for eating and coming together to talk and unwind without being tethered to your device.
Keep devices out of bedrooms at night, particularly for your younger kids. They need their sleep and don’t need the added lure of a ping, a notification or the bright lights and interactivity right before their brain needs to start unwind and prepare for some rest and a reset.
Grab the book
Now of course if you want to get all the information you need in one spot, then my book “The Modern Parent: Raising a Great Kid in the Digital World” has everything you need to help you navigate this world with a focus on maintaining connection with your child and always putting their wellbeing and safety at the forefront. You can grab your copy here
Merry Christmas to you all and enjoy the digital journey with your child!