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Parenting: Your Child and Technology

I often hear parents say that they are frustrated that their children are always using their computers, game boxes, or other technology instead of doing the things that parents feel they should be doing.

It’s easy for kids to get caught up in the mesmerizing effects of technology that is specifically designed to capture their attention. In fact, technology can be addictive!

As a parent, you need to know and do specific things to protect your family and children from the lure of the tech world:

1. Computers are often needed for homework, but chances are your child won’t be doing homework for six hours straight! I would be very cautious in stating that the technology can be used as often and for as long as the child decides he wants to be on it. (Oh, and don’t think for a second that your child is doing homework the entire time the power button is on.)

2. Using technology as a reward or at selected times is better than trying to take it away. If your child thinks the technology is there all the time, he’ll be upset when it’s taken away as punishment. Let your child earn 30-minute coupons for her homework and limit the number of coupons she can redeem each day. They will work enthusiastically to earn your computer time instead of just waiting for it while neglecting their tasks.

3. Not everyone has an iPhone, Xbox, or laptop. Your child won’t be the ONLY one you’ll have to do without. Don’t be emotionally manipulated into thinking your child is disadvantaged because he says he is.

4. Ignorance is not an acceptable excuse for you to be a neglectful parent. Saying you don’t understand software or technology is not a good excuse! Take a course or, better yet, sit down with the child and ask him to show you what he is doing. You will learn and have a better idea of ​​their activities.

5. Paying for technology is not love. I once met with a parent whose son was failing school but he paid for the 2,400 texts she had sent that month. No wonder her grades were low! The purchase of technology or the purchase of plans for the children is not necessary and can even prevent them from doing their schoolwork. Give serious consideration to whether and how a piece of equipment or software will help your child before you buy it.

6. Technology has risks. Do you know why your teenager is in the bedroom with the door closed using a video camera and a computer? Predators are adept at communicating with children, and you can’t be naive about it. Keep all computers in common areas of the house where you can properly supervise them.

7. You can and should monitor your child’s activities. When a child asks you “Don’t you trust me?” the answer is no.” If he wants to do things in secret, that’s an indication that he’s doing something you probably wouldn’t approve of.

8. You need to be in control. There is software that can be programmed to shut down a computer at your request. “Babysitting programs” keep children from going to places that are risky. Check the posts your child makes on Facebook and confront the child about the things that concern him. For example, it is not acceptable for them to use inappropriate language or talk to people you don’t know. Also, look at the date and time of the posts and you will soon realize if there is a violation of the rules you have established for the use of the computer. (Posts after midnight are never acceptable.)

9. You set the example. Do you walk around with a cell phone to your ear? Can you enjoy the silence or must there always be “noise” in the room? If you go out to dinner, do you text or answer calls while ignoring others at your table? How many movies are you watching each week? If you kept track of your technology hours, would you consider yourself a good role model for your child?

10. There is life outside of technology. People need to talk to each other face to face and not just through social media. Belonging to clubs, walking the dog, playing sports, and doing housework are all important aspects of life. Don’t let yourself or your child become so engrossed in technology that you miss out on other important activities.

I don’t care how smart your son is or how much you love him. As a parent, you are responsible for protecting him. It’s better to have a good plan for how and when technology will be used than to try to clean up the mess after your child is addicted, victimized, or isolated.

If you don’t know what’s going on, find out. If you get opposition from the child, be concerned. If you are really wondering what to do, see a psychologist who will help you put together a plan to help you in this area of ​​parenting.

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