Being a mom puts so much into perspective. I watch the news from a mother’s perspective and often find myself crying for the parents of the children I see on the screen. Life isn’t only about the present…there is a very real future to worry about. Happy and healthy, that’s what we hope for our kids, right? But there are many things that could get in the way of that: a deteriorating planet, both environmentally and morally. You (ok, I) begin to worry more about the world’s problems: violence, drugs, STD’s, climate change and natural disasters, pornography, sex-ting, drinking, and…technology?
I have a love/hate relationship with technology. I love this blog. I mean, I really, really love doing this! And reading other people’s blogs too! I love technology because I’ve been able to easily take thousands of pictures and videos of my baby. And then share them with friends and family! I love holding a whole collection of fiction in one hand. I love technology because it allows me access to a world of information. It allows access to people and their pictures, ideas, prayer requests, etc. that I wouldn’t otherwise have.
But, it also keeps me from having deeper relationships with people. It prevents me from having a conversation. It distracts me. It keeps me from using my mind. It is simply mindless entertainment (which we all need every now and then!). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught myself browsing mindlessly through Facebook. How much cumulative time have I wasted?
Research has shown the problem of technology is rapidly increasing not only for us, but also for our kids. Between TV, videogames, tablets, and smart phones: our kids are using their minds less and less…and needing more and more stimulation to keep them entertained.
I know I’ve said a lot, but my main point is this: set boundaries and proceed with caution. Here are a few tips in monitoring media use in your house (summarized from the article “Media-Minded” by Amy Levin-Epstein in Parents Magazine March 2012):
- Supervise surfing: as often as you can, be there when your child is on the internet. Ask him questions about what he’s looking at to prevent “mindless” surfing and to encourage him to engage and learn from his time online.
- Be safe. Add safety features and blocks on the internet to prevent her from stumbling across something inappropriate. Most internet providers have privacy and parental settings, but you can also use a program called covenant eyes. It isn’t free, but it provides filtering, as well as a report of what each child is looking at online. You can also set a time limit and the internet will shut down after the allotted time.
- Chose smart options: look for games and sites that are age appropriate and educational. Sites like www.commonsensemedia.org and www.childrenstech.com have expert approved options for games, apps, and websites.
- Set limits. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids over 2 should have no more than 2 hours of screen time (including tv). Now, it’s up to you to decide a number, but remember to give warnings when media time is almost up and be consistent! You might try following screen time with a fun activity like playing with daddy (as opposed to something not as fun like chores or bedtime) to ease the transition of powering off devices.
- Lead by example. Let your kids enjoy your full attention consistently. If you are constantly distracted/attached to your phone, blackberry, computer, tv…they will learn from your example. Technology is wonderful when it’s used in moderation!
How about you? Do any of you seasoned parents have any tricks or tips that have worked in your home? I’d love any wisdom you’d like to share!