Technology And Kids – Where Is The Balance?
If you’ve got little ones around the house, you’ve probably asked that question. It’s a valid concern for parents. And while some say the most impressionable years are under age eight, reality is that you’re always teaching your kids habits that will last throughout their lifetimes. In today’s world, technology and kids have become a new addition to parenting challenges.
Obviously, if those little people are spending too much time on their tech devices, they’re missing out on your parenting influences. But what exactly is too much? In 2015, the average 8-12 years old was spending over five hours each day engaged with forms of video or audio technology. For the 13-18 group, it’s a staggering 8 hours 20 minutes. Every day.
I’m not here to lecture you, because it’s your job to decide what’s right for your children. But awareness that there might be a problem is the first step to making course corrections now that will benefit both you and them in the long run. It all comes down to you, and me, being willing to embrace the job we took on when we brought them into this world. Being a parent.
If you’re feeling a little lacking in answers and options, I suggest considering the insights and suggestions of an expert or two. One I recently ran across is the newly published “Be The Parent, Please” by Naomi Riley. Ms. Riley is a weekly columnist for the New York Post and a former Wall Street Journal editor and provides a thought-provoking and sometimes pointed look at what’s absorbing, and being absorbed by, our kids. I’m sure you’ll come away with a new perspective and resolve to change things for the better.
Tips For Cutting Back
In the book, Naomi sprinkles a large number of tips for cutting back. Something over 20, but I lost count. Here’s five of my favorites:
- Skip the screens for short trips. Yes, there’s a good reason to give a child a device when you’re in a metal tube traveling across the country at 500 miles per hour with 200 other people. The same is not true of a trip to the supermarket.
- Ban the phrase “I’m bored.” There is enough stuff to do in any 21st century American home to prevent boredom. Send your kids outside for at least a half an hour. Teach them a new card game. Tell them to read a book. If they can’t find anything entertaining, there are always dishes to load and laundry to fold.
- Email is forever. Just as you teach your kids to save their documents when they’re writing a school report, make sure they understand that much of what they write will never really disappear. And it could come back to haunt them later.
- Spoil your children – just not with technology. Take them to a bookstore and let them pick out whatever they want. Take them to an art supply store or a sporting goods store and let them find some new paints or a bouncy ball. Make them feel indulged and they will be less resentful about the absence of screens.
- Diets are diets, whether they’re for food or screen time. If you’re not consistent in the first few weeks about the rules, you will fail. Kids will sense your weakness and they will keep asking until you break down.
Be The Parent, Please
What’s the answer? Only you have it for your family and situation. But one thing is for sure. It’s time to be the parent. Please, for your sake and theirs.