Over half of children ages 8-12 already own a smart tablet and almost a quarter own a smartphone! Kids as young as 8 years old spend over 40 hours a week in front of digital screens. With technology becoming a bigger part of our lives every day, it’s important to guide our little ones on how to use tech in a positive way and create a healthy balance. As both parents and involved in the tech industry, these are our tips on creating a responsible relationship with tech and our kids!
Talk To Your Children About Tech
Our children are masters of tech--just hand them a gadget and they’ll figure it out 10x faster than we ever could (feeling old yet)? While technology can bring so many positives to our lives, it’s important to be honest about the negatives. Whether you’re tackling screen time, the effects of using social media too young, or the dangers of talking to strangers online, we’ve found that having an open conversation of how to use tech safely allows us to be honest with our kids to inform without scaring them.
Set Boundaries and Limits
With everything in life, too much of anything is never good. It’s important to set clear expectations of our little one’s tech usage--even the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates of the world limit their kid’s screen time! To encourage our children to have healthy relationships with tech, we’ve found that establishing ground rules of when and how they can use their tech devices works best. Have a verbal agreement, set up screen time limits on your smart devices, or even set up a reward system--whatever works best for your family to set your child up for success.
Whether you’re comfortable with your child playing online games, using certain apps, or just allowing them to use your laptop when they do remote schooling, it’s important to know what content your child is accessing and who they’re interacting with. Inappropriate content, nudity, and violence are common on websites, apps, and games with more mature users. For older kids, stay up to date on the most controversial social media sites and TikTok trends to keep an open line of communication about using these apps smartly. Some smart devices allow you to set parental controls where you can monitor what your child is viewing and approve who they talk to.
Encourage IRL Friendships
We’re all feeling the Zoom burnout. After two years of online schooling, it can be hard for our little one’s social skills to kick back in. Social anxiety has been a common occurrence with kids and teens since the start of the pandemic, making establishing in-person relationships again tricky. Encourage your little one to have in-person friendships and play dates, not just online or to just go outside to play and get away from the screens. Just be sure to validate their feelings and respect their boundaries as they ease back into the “new normal.”
Be A Good Role Model
It’s perfectly normal to stress about our children and tech, but let’s not forget our own relationship with tech. There are some days where you lock yourself in a bathroom and scroll Instagram (it’s okay), but we also need to be the change we want to see. If you’ve passed the stage where your child repeats everything (and we mean everything) you say, you know they are incredibly observant. Leading by example by putting the phone away for dinnertime or having no-screen family time shows our little ones how easy it is to separate technology from quality one-on-one time. When your little one watches you do it, they’ll often follow in your footsteps!
Creating a healthy relationship between your child and tech doesn’t have to be hard! Have any ideas for our next topic? Send us a DM at @myticktalk to share your ideas!