Easing Worries About Technology Use
These days, it seems like you can’t listen to the news without hearing a story about how our kids are being harmed by technology. Depression, anxiety, and attentional issues all seem to have at least a correlation to tech use. Furthermore, tech companies use all sorts of insidious ways to capture the attention of our children. It can feel so important to “get it right” at home so your kids aren’t among those adversely affected.
But we don’t need to panic.
Here are five parenting moves we can make from the time our children are young that will help alleviate stress around tech use and build healthy tech habits in our families.
Make a Family Plan
Decide together as a family what technology use will look like for everyone in your house. When will (and won’t) it take place? Which rooms will be tech-free, and what will be tech-free times of the day? Which kinds of technology use will be okay and not okay? Allow this to be a true conversation and be open to hearing your kids’ perspectives. Revisit the plan regularly to remind yourselves of what you agreed on and to update it as needed.
Couch Your Tech Rules in Your Values
In our family, we tell our kids that we don’t watch shows until later in the day because we feel it’s important to go outside and move our bodies before we relax. We don’t allow technology at the dinner table because it is important to us to have focused time together. Whatever your rules are, be sure to explain what’s important to you and why those are your rules.
Model the Behavior You Want to See in Your Children
From the time they are born, children are watching us. If we are constantly interrupting our time with them to do something on our phone or our laptop, they will think that’s the norm. If we want them to develop healthy tech habits, we need to practice them ourselves.
Encourage a Healthy Tech Diet
There are a lot of wholesome offerings through technology. My daughters regularly do a kids’ yoga Youtube show (“go-ga” according to my 21-month-old). They enjoy listening to Moshi meditations and stories in the evening as they play. Just as I let them occasionally eat sweets, I also let them watch shows that seem to have no “nutrition” (if you know what I mean), but we balance it with healthy time on screens and lots of tech-free time.
Tune Into What is Actually Happening
When things go sideways, try to separate out your fears from the reality of the situation. Just because your four-year-old throws a massive tantrum after being asked to turn off Daniel Tiger doesn’t mean they are addicted and probably won’t get into college because they won’t have the emotional maturity to be successful in life. It just means that maybe next time you give them a warning before turning it off.
Parenting our kids around tech use can be challenging, but it is not hopeless. The more we can stay grounded in what we believe, have conversations as a family, and pay attention to the impact of our tech use, the healthier our relationship with technology will be.