How to Keep Kids From Becoming Too Tech-Reliant
When the Internet goes down in your house, does everyone in your family fly into panic mode? It’s a common reaction. After all, we’re so tethered to our devices and WiFi that one hiccup can increase our stress levels. And let’s face facts: Having your laptop crash isn’t fun.
Nevertheless, it’s important to raise kids who aren’t so dependent on technology that they become paralyzed without it. This means helping them find the delicate balance between treating devices as nice-to-have versus need-to-have tools. Reports show that kids get up to nine hours of screen time daily. That’s more hours than they spend learning in a classroom, sleeping, or engaging in any type of sport.
Worried that you can’t disengage your child from tech without moving off the grid? Stay calm and have faith in your parenting skills. It’s possible to keep a youngster, tween or teen from total tech reliance. And no relocation to a remote mountain hideaway is necessary.
Show Less Personal Dependance on Tech
Like it or not, your kids will imitate your behavior, at least when they’re in their elementary and middle school years. If you’re able to turn off your smartphone and set it aside for hours, they’ll see that it’s not your world.
Instead of carrying it in your pocket, place it on the kitchen counter or on top of your dresser. When you’re home, listen and pay attention to the other people in your household. Rather than immediately Googling an answer you should already know, take time to jog your memory without help. These small behavioral changes will indicate you don’t see technology as the end-all, be-all.
Be Thoughtful About the Tech You Give Your Children
It’s fairly inevitable that you’re going to buy your children tech as they grow. Even if you don’t, your child’s school may issue laptops or tablets to all students. So your youngster will have to get used to handling tech responsibly.
With that being said, you don’t have to go full-throttle when you purchase technological devices. For instance, look for a first phone for kids that doesn’t give them access to the app store or the web. They might grumble, but they’ll have to earn the right to have a different, more sophisticated phone later. For the time being, they’ll be able to text, call, and take images. That’s really all kids absolutely need, and it’ll keep them from having the world in their hands before they’re ready for the responsibility.
Make Non-Tech Activities the Gold Standard in Your Home
Does your home life tend to revolve around technology? Maybe the first thing you do when you come in the door is turn on the television. Later, you ask Alexa to order up some groceries from Amazon Prime. After that, you check news online while your kids jump on the computer to play multiplayer games with their buddies. These habits all indicate that tech guides your leisure time.
The way to weaken tech’s hold over your home is to replace online pastimes with offline ones. Go outside for a quick walk before dinner instead of plopping down in front of the TV. Write up a grocery order on paper and wait until later to submit it through Amazon. Indulge in a book or play games with your kids. Over time, you’ll all crave tech less.
Teach Kids How to Use Brain Power, Not “Swiping Power”
As a society, everyone’s become accustomed to checking the Internet for ideas. Research indicates around a quarter of adults are on the Internet practically nonstop. To be sure, this type of information crowdsourcing can be valuable, saving time and maybe money. Hey, where else but YouTube will you find an extensive how-to video of how to remove acrylic paint from an expensive silk blouse?
Still, it can be refreshing and satisfying to have an “Aha!” moment without Google’s help. When your kids come to you with a conundrum, don’t immediately suggest they swipe or scroll their way to a solution. Teach them to be critical thinkers, coming up with hypotheses based on the facts they have on hand. Kids often forget that the gray matter between their ears is nothing short of a powerful computer. The more they use it, the more successful and self-reliant they’ll be.
Curb the Overuse and Misuse of Social Media
Many parents find their kids’ TikTok videos hilarious, or their filtered Instagram images incredible. However, social media can be a slippery slope in terms of tech addiction. Even adults aren’t immune to the need for constant social validation. So how could young kids understand that having a low number of followers, likes, or comments shouldn’t affect their self-esteem?
Moms and dads have every right to monitor the movements of their sons and daughters on social platforms. Quite honestly, they should have family discussions about social media frequently before the kids ever have their own accounts. And if your child says they want to be part of any social media scene, set up usage parameters immediately—and stick to them.
Spend Money on Gifts That Aren’t Technical
As a final way to ease your children away from a tech-is-everything mindset, be pragmatic about the gifts you give at holiday time or for special occasions. As an example, you may want to buy your kids more items that don’t require WiFi, batteries, or cords and less that do. It’s okay to purchase technology now and then, but make tech products supporting players, not the star of the gift-giving show.
What happens if your child hands you a holiday shopping wish list that only includes tech suggestions? Hand it back and ask for an addendum. Explain that you’re not going to only buy electronics equipment or accessories. You might be surprised at how quickly your kids can come up with other things they’d like that are decidedly old-school and offline.
It’s not likely that tech’s going to disappear. All signs show it’s becoming a bigger and bigger influence on everyone’s lives. Nonetheless, you can bring up kids who have a healthy relationship with technology. Just make a few changes and you should see big results that’ll pay off down the road.