By now, it’s clear that technology has completely changed the landscape in which children are growing up. In fact, we’re integrating technology into education today more than ever. As much as you try, it’s impossible to keep them from it. Instead, let’s change the conversation around technology from one about restriction to one where you teach them to use it responsibly and safely.
Families often ask us for parenting tips relating to their children’s use of technology, so we’ve assembled some valuable research. Feel free to reach out at any time for information. In the meantime, here are some important thoughts on how to keep your kids safe in this ever-evolving high-tech world.
Technology In Early Childhood
Early in a child’s life, especially from the ages of 3-9, their family is the central influence on their lifestyle and habits. Children in this age range have less privacy, and monitoring what they engage with is easy. The media content geared to young children is highly regulated and age-appropriate. These intrinsic boundaries allow you to step away for a moment and know what they’re watching is safe. This is a good time to begin establishing boundaries about when and how long kids can access technology.
Technology Around Age Ten
Around age 10, you’ll notice a shift in how your child is most influenced. Their peer group will become much more important to them, and the family’s influence may wane. This may sound scary, but by this point, you’ve likely been involved in the types of friendships they’ve forged through play dates and family outings. Hopefully, they’ve developed friendships with kids whose families value the same kind of relationships with technology that you do. If you’re not sure, start a conversation with the parents of your children’s friends.
Technology For Teens and Young Adults
As children reach their teen years, media content is far less regulated. Movies and games rated for 13-year-olds have much more mature content than those for younger children. As they get further into their teens, they may be able to access more mature media without your permission. At this stage of their lives, you can monitor their exposure as much as possible and depend on the wisdom instilled in them as children to help guide them toward making the best media choices for themselves.
Parents tend to want to block anything that doesn’t feel age-appropriate, and at a very young age, that is your responsibility. However, simply blocking technology is not a good strategy to help your kids become good decision-makers. You’ll want your tech strategy to evolve as you bestow more trust and expect more responsibility from your kids. One of our top tech parenting tips is to start by blocking, then as they get older, you can move to a combination of blocking and monitoring, and as they mature, you can give them more and more space to make their own choices while still monitoring them for their safety.
Technology isn’t going anywhere and will be a part of your kid’s lives in one way or another for the rest of their lives. Working together as a family is important to help them engage with their technological environment responsibility. Get involved with them in how they play online. Find apps and games you can enjoy together. There are also mobile options to enable parents to limit and monitor their children’s exposure to social media and other websites from their own phones.
Parenting is a wonderful gift and often the hardest job you’ll ever have in your life. Children today live in a time of unprecedented access to information, and likewise, parents need new parenting tips to help them respond in whole new ways. Remember you’re in charge, and you have the right and responsibility to set boundaries, monitor your child’s exposure to tech, and teach them how to set responsible boundaries for themselves.
The steps you’re taking today to help your children set boundaries around what type of tech they’re exposed to and how often they get to use it sets a foundation for their relationship with technology for the rest of their lives. If you need support navigating this new high-tech landscape, we can help! We’ve done tons of research and can recommend information on what types of routers to buy, how to set up parental controls, articles about good digital citizenship, and other parenting tips. Please get in touch with us anytime for support.