For today's kids, technology is part of their natural environment. Childhood today means growing up in a digital world. The kids are being shaped by exploration and participation in that world. The internet in particular means that our kids can actively participate in independent learning and if used properly, the internet can contribute to healthy empowerment and well being.
Communication in today's digital world has taken on new meaning. It's now instant and accessible. The advent of social media means kids, parents and grandparents can have their say, share news and photos and other media, and stay in touch on a minute to minute basis.
People often say that the previous parents had to deal with television and telephone, and as everyone knows, every generation struggles with some new invention that changes everything, and the Smartphone is really no different than anything came before it.
But in fact, where everybody is now, with the explosion of technology into every aspect of our lives and children's lives and everybody's complete dependence upon it, is fundamentally different than any other time in history. Technology is a revolution and not like any other previous invention.
First, it is important that we honor our intention to help our children and families stay emotionally connected and intact. We have to be willing to work hard at this endeavor, to be good parents, because it profoundly matters. In some ways, our society depends upon it. When the family crumbles, all else crumbles. But also, because we want to deeply know our children, to spend time with them without a thousand other distractions.
Tips for Good Parenting
Live the behavior you are preaching. If anyone is on their device constantly then parent's guidance is of no value, parent's rules are irrelevant. If the parents don't walk the walk, then their kids won't either. Limit your time on your device, particularly when the parents are with their kids and partner. Show your kids what it looks like to be engaged in activities that don't involve technology and absolutely do not leave your devices on or in sight during family meals.
2.Create a Context
Don't just tell your kids they can't use their devices explain to kids the larger intentions behind your rules. For example, share that you don't want them anxious all the time, and explain the effect that cortisol has on their growing body. Express that you actually want to know them and technology gets in the way of that happening. Tell them perhaps that you simply miss them, miss talking or taking walks with them. Whatever the larger and more loving intentions behind your rules, share them with your child. Create an open dialogue so the conversation can go deeper and become more connective, rather than simply arguing over screen time.
A lot of parents these days say that the horse is already out of the barn and it's a losing battle this technology thing. When these parents give their kids the device, they claim they're just giving him what he wants. This is not good parenting. As parents, we often need to take the harder path, the one our child doesn't want, make the choice that creates more conflict, but ultimately, is better for our kids and our family. We need to dig deep, be fierce, stand our ground, and remember why we're choosing this harder path, what's really at stake.
If you want to make God roll on the clouds with laughter, make plans with kids and smart phones. And yet, we still have to set the rules ahead of time with regard to our kids' usage. It can be a good idea to do this together as a family. Whatever the rules you as parents decide on, make them specific, written down on paper, and hung up where they can be seen. When the conflict begins, you will be able to point to these established rules without any hesitation or confusion.
5.Ask Your Kids About Their Experience with Technology
Be curious about, specifically, how your kids experience their lives in the midst of technology. What it's like for them to be kids in this kind of environment. You might ask how it feels to be with a friend who's constantly texting and snap chatting other people when they're with them. Or perhaps to be at a party where everyone is staring into their device and there's no one there to really talk to. Whatever the issues that they're pretending are okay, ask about them. Turn these difficult experiences into something they question rather than just assume is normal. Remember, there's still a young person in there who's probably feeling lonely, insecure, confused, anxious and overwhelmed by all of it. Invite that young person to the table and give them your full attention.
6.Get Your Kids into Tech-Free Activities
It's increasingly important to expose your kids to activities that don't require technology and also allow them to connect with people and themselves in a different way. We need to show them that they can still enjoy experiences like sports, music and nature without their devices, and that there really is life outside their smart phone.
We parents have to be kind to ourselves too. Sometimes we allow our child the device even when we know we shouldn't, because we also know that it will make them stop whining or bitching and because we desperately need peace. And that's okay. We also have needs and are not perfect. But what's most important is not that we're perfect, but that we keep trying.
Parenting these days is not for the faint of heart. Although anyone does not think there's ever been a time that parenting was easy, the presence of these devices in our children's lives makes now a particularly challenging and frustrating time to raise children. We are living with addicts and they are the people we love the most and want to be happy and well, which is exactly what addiction prevents.