Written by Sarah Kimmel from Family Tech Zone.
During the summer it is easy to become a little lax with the technology and screen time. The kids are complaining that they are bored, you need to get some things done, and screens are an easy answer some days. We have all been there! Now that school is starting back up, it’s time to make sure the kids are using technology wisely, and maintaining good habits.
Technology can be good in so many ways, but it can also be addictive, and dangerous. We want our kids to be able to get the most out of the technology at their disposal, without falling into the traps that can be waiting for them.
Set Time Limits
One of the most important things to establish, now that the new school year is upon us and most families are getting back on a set schedule, is time limits for the devices in your home. Setting a time limit for the devices your kids use will help them manage their own schedule. Initially, set a very low time limit, like 10-30 minutes of free time a day. Once they have completed their chores, homework and extracurricular activities, they can earn extra time. This allows them a little bit of freedom, but still gives them the ability to figure out how to manage their time.
Even when children are not purposely looking for inappropriate content, it can easily find them. You want to make sure to filter out the bad content, so that your children can access the good content. Using a content filter, and forcing Google Safe Search settings can really help make sure your children don’t accidentally stumble upon something they shouldn’t be viewing.
On top of the filter, continue to have conversations with your children about what they should do when they do happen upon something inappropriate. You will need to explain what is considered inappropriate and help them come up with a plan for what to do when they see it. No filter is perfect, and you should prepare your children for when it fails.
Monitor App Downloads
There are a lot of inappropriate apps available in the store to download. Some applications may not be completely inappropriate, but your house might have rules against using specific apps. Keeping tabs on what apps are installed on your children’s devices will help keep you in the loop and allow you to restrict access.
Follow Age Restrictions
Most social media apps require the user to be at least 13 years old to obtain an account. There are many reasons for this age restriction. The main reason is that children who are younger don’t have the capability to understand the implications of their actions on social media.
Once your child has reached the allowed age to create the account, make sure you sit down with them and go over the privacy settings. Also, let them know that anything they post or write online is never completely private. Maintain rules that you will always know the password to their account, and will be regularly monitoring their activity.
Lead by Example
Parents who are always telling their children to put their phones away, but are unable to do so themselves can set a bad example. It can be a good idea to set some time limits and restrictions on yourself to help you avoid this double standard. Rules like no phones at the dinner table, and technology free zones in the house can also help you set good technology habits for the entire family.
Technology can really enrich the school year. There are apps that help with homework, and even some apps that classrooms use as homework!
Duolingo just announced that their Flashcard application Tinycards is now available on Android devices, as well as their original app that helps kids learn languages.
Khan Academy is also an amazing resource to help children of all ages understand concepts from simple math to advanced Calculus to Chemistry, you can find videos about any topic imaginable.
Elementary schools are also using apps like IXL and Raz-Kids as the assigned homework for the day. Technology doesn’t have to be the bad guy, and in some cases can be required for school. Setting these kinds of rules and limitations can help educate your children on how use technology as the amazing tool it can be.