Last week I was guest posting over at Planning with Kids about 8 things parents should know about technology and parenting. Many of the comments pointed toward a frustration by parents over the amount of time kids were online and the trouble they had in enforcing rules regarding the use of technology. Or overuse more to the point!
Here are a few pointers to help you take back control and help ensure your kids have a greater chance of being able to regulate their own behavior and time management as they grow up surrounded by the distractions of technology.
Start early From the moment your little one can swipe an ipad make sure they know there are limits to its use. We want to be able to take things away without a fight every time. And whilst you will more than likely get one the first few times you interrupt their extremely important, almost at my highest score game, they will learn. Like all aspects of parenting, the earlier you start getting them used to the boundaries, the greater control you will both have over their behaviour.
Follow through with threats when rules are broken and arguments keep going. We recently banned our boys from xbox games for 2 weeks due to fights over whose turn it was and the whinging about not wanting to get off when we asked them too. There was no negotiation at this point. You as a parent do have the control over what gets used in your house and for how long. They may cry and argue and tell you ‘you’re the meanest mum in the world’……..but they will get over it. And so will you!
Time Limits: Stick to time limits and have them in place even when they are playing nicely and helping you get other things done! When we re-introduced the xbox after a ban it came back with much stricter rules. We now have a limit of 30 minutes for the games each on a week night. We discussed what we thought was fair (we, the parents, having the final say of course) and ultimately they were happy to comply as they had just experienced what it was like to have no access at all.
Role Model: This is difficult when for many of us our business and livelihood revolve around the work we do on a computer and online. But it doesn’t mean our kids cant see us having our own boundaries over computer use etc. I now have stricter timelines for myself on when I can work and when I need to switch off to give something else (running a household) my full attention.
When we did ban the xbox for those weeks we were pleasantly surprised at some of the other ways they found to amuse themselves. They did bring out the old playing cards and went riding on their scooters more. Now with more limited time back on the xbox, they are more easily reverting to these other activites when the technology gets turned off.
Like everything with parenting you need to make your decisions represent your family values and what will work for your situation. Your rules and boundaries, what you accept and don’t accept must be a reflection of how you want your family life to look. Remember too that the short term pain of enforcing some of these boundaries will always lead to the longer term gain…which for all of us should be a household of more joy and less stress.
Do you struggle to get your kids off their games and computers? And what rules do you have in place in your family regarding time limits and technology?