Maybe it was a Super Nintendo, Oregon Trail on the school computer, or immersing yourself in episodes of Full House, but our exposure to technology was vastly different from what our children experience. They’re inundated with technology EVERYWHERE they turn. They even have the ability to carry their technology around with them inside their pocket!
Does that mean we just hand them an Ipod, unlimited Netflix and YouTube access, and an unmonitored TV and allow them to handle technology however they deem fit? This month we want to help you as a parent understand the pros and cons of technology and how to manage it in a way that sets your child up for success.
How do we manage screen time such as TV, movies, video games, etc. with our child, and WHY should we put parameters around their use of technology anyway?
Technology is everywhere! It is neither good nor bad, it’s what we make of it. Most kids today have some sort of mobile device. We want to take some time to figure out how we build boundaries around our child’s use of mobile devices.
Initially we need to address the real question: Do children need boundaries with technology? There are tons of bad things that COULD happen as your child uses his/her mobile device and setting boundaries on those will help protect them. BOUNDARIES GIVE PROTECTION.
In Exodus 16 we read about the Israelites in the wilderness. They’re starving and begin to complain. God miraculously provides manna and quail for them WITH some boundaries. The instructions are that every person is to collect ONLY what they need FOR THAT DAY. However, there are people that decide they want to collect enough for tomorrow too, and the extra gets infested with maggots!
Yes, our kids need boundaries with their mobile devices. We can help provide boundaries a few ways:
- Limit time. Many apps and settings will actually monitor your child’s amount of time on their mobile device. Have your child turn in their device at a certain time every evening.
- Limit content. Unlimited access to Netflix and YouTube greatly increase your child’s chance of stumbling upon inappropriate content. Both of these apps have safeguards built in that can be set on your child’s mobile device. Surfing the internet via mobile device is a disaster waiting to happen. Take all internet surfing capability OFF of the mobile device OR give them a SAFE browser such as McGruff Safeguard Browser, K9 Protection Browser or AVG Family Safety.
- Limit apps. BE SMART about apps, they are not all OK. Many parents allow children to have apps like snap chat-which allows easy access to nude pictures, and Kik Messenger-an anonymous texting app. Know the app your child is requesting. You can check out reviews of apps for kids at commonsensemedia.org and iparent.tv.
- Use contracts. Make a clear contract for your child with the device and follow through with consequences if that contract is broken. Build responsibility in them and remind them that anything done is secret or that they wouldn’t look at with you is not okay. The best is to create one that fits your family. There are tons of resources out there that provide boundaries for kids’ devices, so take some time to do a little research, and set your child up for technological success!
The sex talk used to be the awkward talk that parents had to have, and, YES, you still need to have that one. But in today’s society we must have talk with our children about the risks associated with technology. They should know WHY boundaries exist. Be honest with them about the dangers and they will take you more seriously. This is not to create a spirit of fear, but rather a creating a wisdom that will protect them for years to come.