By Dr. Jan Hittelman
In our fast-paced world of technology, it is difficult for parents to keep up. The speed of this technological evolution often outpaces a parent’s ability to develop effective strategies to address it.
While we cannot stop technological progress, here are some suggestions to consider:
• Consider your own behavior: How much time do you spend in front of a screen, talking on your cell phone, or watching TV? Like it or not we are the role models for our children and need to try and practice what we preach.
• Create technology-free days: Consider setting aside time in the evenings and/or the weekends for everyone in the family to turn off cell phones, iPods, televisions, videogames, computers, etc. and actually interact with each other.
• Discuss technology etiquette: Make sure that your children understand appropriate uses of technology in terms of treating others with respect and only communicating in ways that would make you proud.
• Make technology a privilege, not a right: Consider having your child earn technology time as a function of meeting their responsibilities at home and in school. Imagine if every hour of technology was a function of actually interacting with others in the real world without plugging in to something.
• Develop family rules regarding technology: Include your children in discussions about turning their phones off after a certain time at night, how much is too much daily screen time, the importance of other activities like exercise and in-person social interaction, as well as how to prioritize other responsibilities with leisure pursuits.
• Keep a realistic perspective: Remember that part of your difficulty with accepting all of this technology is that it is more foreign to you than it is to your children. In the 1960’s, parents were fearful of rock music, confident that it would unravel the fiber of civilization. Somehow we survived that as well.
Taking a proactive approach with your child’s use of technology will reduce the amount of conflict that inevitably occurs when there are not clear guidelines in place.