Technology is all around us. It’s in our offices, our homes, and our children’s schools. During the pandemic, we saw just how useful it can be. We could log on to our tablets for online schooling and stay entertained with endless apps. But too much technology use, especially by children, can create unhealthy habits and addiction.
It’s tempting to want to keep your kids away from technology, but that’s not a long-term solution. Luckily, by implementing boundaries in your children’s lives, you can teach them how to have a healthy relationship with technology. In this article, we’ll discuss sixways to help keep your children from becoming addicted to technology.
1. Choose the Right Cell Phone
As a parent, you want the ability to contact your children whenever you need to. With so many fancy, tech-advanced phones on the market, getting a phone for your child can feel daunting. But there are actually phones available that are made specifically for children.
As you’re looking for a cell phone for kids, remember that you can decide which phone is best for them. This means that if there are features you don’t want your kids to access, you can find a more restricted phone. You can choose a phone that limits their gaming, for example, so they don’t spend hours blowing away irate birds.
You can also choose a phone that restricts their messaging capabilities. This way, they can only send text-based messages, and you won’t have to worry about photos they might be sending.
2. Download Parental Control Apps
It’s true what they say about there being an app for everything. If you want to monitor what your child is doing online, download a parental control app.
There are several apps for parents to monitor their child’s online activity, and they all provide varying services. For example, Net Nanny offers parents web filtering, location tracking, and even app management capabilities. Kaspersky Safe Kids offers web filtering, time limits, and app management — and for a lower price. Before you download a parental control app, find one that will meet your needs and your price point.
There are a few red flags to look for that may indicate a need for parental control apps. If you notice your kid is only happy when they’re online, it might be time to look into the app store. Or if your kid hides their screen when you enter the room, it’s definitely time to monitor their usage.
Kids hide things from their parents, and this includes what they do online if clear boundaries aren’t set. This is where parental control apps come in handy.
3. Set a Time Limit
Without any rules, it’s easy for your child to spend what feels like all day on their devices.
When you’re building your kids’ healthy relationship with technology, establish time limits for how long they can use their devices. Health professionals differ on suggested screen times, but here are some easy, rule-of-thumb limits to consider implementing in your home.
If your children need to use their devices for homework, consider setting aside screen time before dinner. This way, your children can stay focused on their assignments, and they will be using technology in a productive manner. For frivolous scrolling and online gaming, however, limit your kids’ time to 30 minutes to an hour.
Too much screen time, especially before bed, can damage your kids’ sleep schedule. So it’s best to unplug from all technology (including the television), within an hour of bedtime. By setting time limits and frames on their screen time, you’re creating healthy boundaries with technology.
4. Designate Tech-Free Spaces in Your Home
After a long day at school, it’s natural for your child to want to lie on their bed and scroll on their phone. This behavior, however, can feed a tech addiction and cause your kids to shut themselves in their room for hours. Instead of allowing your kids to sequester themselves with their devices, create designated tech-free spaces around your home.
These tech-free spaces can be anywhere in the house where you want your family to unplug. If your family values mealtimes, turn your dining room into a tech-free zone. If you want your family members to spend more time together outside of their rooms, designate each bedroom as tech-free.
Before you set these tech-free spaces in your home, make sure you have at least one room that is tech-friendly. This could be the kitchen, a home office, or even the living room. It’s best to keep your family’s tech-friendly areas in a common space.
5. Store Your Family’s Devices When Not in Use
When you walk by and see your phone sitting idly on the kitchen counter, it’s tempting to pick it up. Instead of keeping your family’s devices in a visible location that’s easy to access anytime, keep them stowed away.
Choose somewhere in your home that isn’t as convenient to access. For example, consider storing phones and tablets in a vacant drawer in your office desk.
Storing your family’s devices out of sight can reduce the temptation to use them. This can help you manage your family members’ daily screen time.
6. Practice What You Preach
Your children will learn by the examples you set for them. If you’re constantly staring at your phone or playing mindless games on your tablet, they’ll pick up these behaviors.
So instead of creating tech-healthy rules and disregarding them for yourself, model good behavior. Turn your phone off before bed. Don’t use your devices in your tech-free zones. Communicate with your children about how you’re actively limiting your technology use. Technology addiction isn’t just a problem in children — adults can experience it, too.
Children who are addicted to technology can experience myriad mental and social problems. They can suffer from social isolation and poor social skills. They are more likely to experience low self-esteem and unstable moods. And they can struggle with sleep disorders.
Fortunately, it is possible for your kids to have a healthy relationship with technology. By setting boundaries and leading by example, you can prevent your children from becoming addicted to technology.