While technology has been literally life-changing, it’s also incredibly addicting. Adults have plenty of problems becoming too attached to technology, but bad habits start early. With kids accessing technology at ever younger ages, parents must show them how to maintain a healthy relationship with tech as soon as possible.
It’s the responsibility of parents to teach their kids the right way to live. Technology is a big part of the present and the future, so it’s one area you’ll need to emphasize in your teaching. Here are seven ways you can help your kids avoid tech addiction and the detrimental effects that come with it:
Set the Example
Monkey see, monkey do. Kids are incredibly impressionable, and they’re more likely to follow your actions than they are to listen to your words. If you want to teach children to have a healthy relationship with technology, develop one yourself.
What does your own technology usage look like? Use an app on your smartphone to track your daily screen time usage. If you’re clocking in hours of idle time on mobile games and social media, look for ways to cut back.
Reading a book or tending to some minor housekeeping are examples of activities that can put your time to better use. If you don’t model healthy tech use, your kids won’t hesitate to mention your own technology habits when requesting more screen time. You won’t have a leg to stand on when they beg to play just one more hour of video games before bed.
Present Technology as a Tool
Most kids see technology solely as a method of entertainment. While this is certainly not surprising, technology should be regarded as a tool. Teach this aspect of tech first so your kids understand that work comes before play.
Show kids how the internet can be used to research new topics or learn a new skill. You can even complete a DIY project together following a YouTube video or use Google to help perfect an upcoming school project. These examples will illustrate how tech can be used to accomplish tasks and not just as a way to pass the time.
Use this approach when buying your first kids phone. Before pointing out features such as its music app, explain the purpose it serves as a tool. Phones are used, first of all, to enable communication with loved ones. Your kid’s new device will likely also have useful apps such as a calculator and a digital notebook to use.
Plan Plenty of Activities
Technology can easily create an imbalance in your life. You work at a computer all day only to come home and scroll through social media on your smartphone while watching TV. A healthy relationship with technology requires a degree of separation to include the rest of life’s joys.
Show your kids just how much fun they can have while unplugged. Take them to the park and to shows and concerts. Plan other activities that keep them engaged at home and outside. Encouraging participation in extracurricular activities will ensure that kids strike the proper balance between online and offline play.
Create No-Tech Zones and Times
There are times and places where the use of technology is not appropriate. The classroom is one example, but you won’t be at school to monitor your kids’ use of technology. Start instilling good habits and judgment early by establishing no-tech zones and times in your home.
The dinner table is an excellent example of a time and place where technology shouldn’t be allowed. Start there, and branch out to other areas as you see fit. No technology in bed, during reading time, or first thing in the morning are other parameters you can set.
Make Them Work for It
Kids will value their technology more when they’ve earned it. Too many kids feel entitled when they get a cellphone upgrade for Christmas every year. Teach your children to work for the technology they get, and they’ll learn to take care of it better.
Let’s say your kids have approached you with the desire to get a new video game console. Instead of giving in immediately and buying it for them, put them to work. Assign chores for them to earn money to save, and eventually they can buy the console themselves. After all the hard work, not only will the prize feel more rewarding, they’ll respect the time it took to earn it.
Many parents also make their kids work for screen time. Create a list of chores that, once completed, will grant your kids a set amount of technology use. Your kids will only earn screen time if they get some productive tasks done first.
It’s easy to get sucked into your own world with technology. Show your kids that technology is best used with other people. Playing games or watching a movie with friends and family, for example, is a better way to use technology than by yourself.
Video technology allows your kids to reach out to grandparents, cousins, and other family members who don’t live close by. Emphasize this type of technology use in your family. You’ll develop stronger relationships and teach your kids that technology is for more than solo entertainment.
Warn About Dangers
There’s a lot of evil in the world that we don’t want to tell our kids about. The sad truth is that they need to be aware of the dangers of technology so they don’t get hurt. Sit down with your kids to warn them about the hidden traps that can be found on the internet.
When made aware of the dangers of technology, kids will be more cautious about what they do with it. If you don’t talk to your kids about strangers on the internet, cyberbullying, or pornography, they’ll find out from less trustworthy sources. Don’t let that be an option.
Technology should be an asset, not a hindrance. Set your kids up for success by helping them develop a healthy relationship with technology from day one.