It’s hard to think about life before technology. When I was growing up, phones were connected to walls. Computers were few-and-far between. And music was played on cassettes. Now technology is an essential part of our world – an invaluable resource and tool for our children, and for us. We use it for communication and socializing, as well as for work and education. Given this (plus the fact that technology is constantly changing), it is difficult for us as parents to determine how it’s usage aligns with our values and our lives in a productive, enjoyable, and healthy manner.
For years now, I’ve been engaging in regular conversations with other parents about the challenges technology presents for our children. We ask each other lots of difficult questions with hopes to find the “right” answer.
- When is the right time to give my child a phone?
- What type of phone should they have?
- Should they have free reign on the internet?
- Should they be allowed on social media?
- How much time should they should spend on their device?
- Do I need to oversee everything they are doing?
When tasked with figuring out the answers for our family, I must admit that it seemed easier to just let my daughters do whatever they want and let them learn from their mistakes. But I could not in good conscience choose that path. Technology usage, and all that comes along with it is a big deal (especially for girls). In most cases, problems do not arise through the USE of technology, but rather through OVERuse and/or MISuse of it.
As a parent, I believe it is my job to teach my children how to navigate technology (in particular texting and social media since they those seem to cause friend drama, anxiety, and danger). I also feel strongly that in order to help most effectively, I need to oversee their usage (whether they like it or not). By taking time to talk through things, my goal is to avoid many of technology’s pitfalls. Fortunately, our open and honest communication has proved beneficial.
However, there is only so much we can do on our end given we don’t have control of others. When I see social media pics and captions or read texts others have written, or hear about the inappropriate apps kids are using, I can’t help but wonder if their parents condone this behavior or simply don’t see the necessity of being involved in their children’s technology usage. This makes it so much harder on parents like myself who want to do the right thing. But even worse is how much harder it is for our children.
That’s why I decided to share what I learned in the form of a Technology Guide / Contract. I encourage each parent to read and adapt them to reflect your own values, preferences, and parenting styles. Then, discuss it all with your children. The more knowledge/understanding that parents and adult influences have on technology, the easier it will be to help our kids integrate it into their lives in a positive and effective way.
Oh and one more thing, perhaps the hardest one of all, don’t forget to model the behavior you are expecting from them!
As always, if you have any more advice please feel free to share it with me at dawn@GAALSusa.comShare: