Ask any parent today and they will likely tell you that raising kids in the digital age is no easy task. Between smartphones, social media, video games, and other digital gadgets, it seems as if modern parenting has more challenges than benefits. However, this doesn’t mean that being a parent in the 21st century is inherently hard or impossible. In fact, there are plenty of ways to make things easier on yourself as a parent in this tech-savvy world. As technology becomes increasingly integrated into our daily lives and streamlines processes, we once found cumbersome (think home automation and self-driving cars), it makes sense that we see the same trend with parenthood. Here are some tips for making parenthood in the tech world a reality rather than an oxymoron.
Set Strict Limits on Screen Time
First and foremost, it is important to set strict limits on the amount of time your child spends in front of a screen. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under the age of two should have no screen time at all due to the risk of SIDS. For children ages two to five, AAP recommends limiting screen time to one hour per day. And for children between the ages of six and 18, AAP recommends no more than two hours of screen time per day. This could mean setting strict rules about electronic devices and giving them a curfew. Keep in mind that screen time isn’t limited to the television or computer. The times when kids are using their smartphones and tablets are just as important. To help set appropriate and healthy limits on screen time, come up with house rules that all family members must follow. Make sure to enforce the rules consistently.
Encourage Face-to-Face Communication
With modern technology allowing us to stay connected with colleagues and clients around the globe at all hours of the day, there is a common misconception that we must also be constantly communicating with our loved ones. While it is nice to stay in touch with distant family members, it is important to remember to put an emphasis on face-to-face communication. For example, if your child comes home from school and instantly begins texting his or her friends, politely remind them to pick up the phone or put the phone down so that they can have a conversation with you. If they are spending a lot of time on social media, suggest that they try to do this face-to-face instead. This will help to foster healthy relationships with friends and family members and decrease the amount of time your kids are spending staring at a screen.
Utilize Apps and Tools That Streamline Tasks
In addition to setting strict limits on screen time and encouraging face-to-face communication, you can also utilize apps and tools that streamline tasks and make your life as a parent easier. For example, apps like Wunderlist and Any.do are great tools for keeping track of your grocery list, to-do lists, and other things you need to remember. If you have kids in sports and extracurricular activities, apps like Coaches Note, Game Day, and TeamSnap can help you keep track of everything your child is doing. For chores and other responsibilities, consider using apps such as Chore Monster. This app is designed to help parents reward their children for completing chores. Besides helping you keep track of everything that needs to be done, these apps also help to foster a sense of responsibility in your kids.
Help Children Learn the Basics of Good Digital Citizenship
As a parent, you will want your children to be responsible digital citizens. But what does this mean, exactly? When you think of good digital citizenship, you should think about being respectful of others’ opinions, following the rules of the Internet, and generally being an upstanding member of the online community. As your children begin to explore the Internet and spend time on social media, be sure to help them understand the importance of being a good digital citizen. You can do this by having regular conversations about online safety and making sure to follow up these conversations with rules about online behavior. For example, you might have a rule that your child must stay off of social media until they have finished their homework for the day. This is a great way to make sure that your child is focusing on schoolwork and not just goofing around online.
Bottom line: Parenting in a tech world is a reality
While it may sometimes feel like modern parenting has more challenges than benefits, it doesn’t mean that it is impossible. With strict limits on screen time, encouragement of face-to-face communication, and the utilization of apps and tools that streamline tasks, you can make parenting in a tech world a reality and take some of the stress off of yourself so you can focus on what’s really important for your family.