You may have encountered this scenario before: Your kids anxiously await the holiday season, receive their gifts, and then spend countless hours engaged with their new tech. Some may even keep their tech at arm’s length at all times, taking it with them wherever they go including to bed. Conversations with your child while they are engaged with their tech are fruitless; a stale gaze covers their face while their responses are a combination of mumbles and grunts.
This is what we refer to as a "tech hangover": the physical, mental and emotional state of being immersed in technology to the point that nothing else around you matters. If your child recently received new technology this holiday season you may know what I am referring to. You may also know the warning signs of a tech hangover, such as a decline in school performance and a withdrawal from social activities. With that in mind, here are three tips to help cure your child of a tech hangover.
1. Set Expectations Upfront
Discuss with your kids how you expect them to use their technology appropriately. For example, laptops and computers should be used for educational purposes more-so than surfing the Internet. Cell phones should be used to communicate in case of emergency rather than keep up with their friends. Involve your kids in setting these rules and limits. Set reasonable guidelines they should follow in order to continue using their technology. For example, bad grades or unfinished chores could translate to less screen time. Talk about inappropriate behaviors such as cyberbullying and sexting, and how you expect them to conduct themselves while using technology. Don’t hesitate to use software solutions, such as PocketGuardian, to assist in
identifying inappropriate behaviors and content on their tech devices.
2. Set Screen Time Limits
Everyone needs downtime to unwind after a long day and kids are no different. It's a good idea to establish time during the week during which your kids can have screen time. For example, one hour per school night (after homework is complete) and four hours per weekend. Do not be alarmed if your child runs to their tech as soon as you allow this screen time. Remember, the reasoning behind screen time limits is to create a healthy life balance for your child, not deter them from wanting to use technology.
3. Take Tech Breaks
Schedule time for your kids to do activities that do not involve them using technology. Plan family outings such as dinner, movies, trips to a museum or bike rides. Make sure everyone (parents included) leaves their devices at home or in the car during family activities. You could also plan play-dates or group activities with the families of your child's friends. Not only will this provide a break from technology, it will promote social interaction without using technology.
Jason France is a Co-Founder of PocketGuardian, a parental monitoring application that detects Cyberbullying and Sexting on children’s mobile devices while maintaining their privacy. Prior to PocketGuardian he founded Tangent Engineering, which creates custom software applications specializing in CyberSecurity, Natural Language Processing, and Web Design. Jason graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a Bachelors of Science in Electrical & Computer Engineering and a Masters in Information Systems Management with a concentration in CyberSecurity. Follow PocketGuardian on Twitter @PocketGuardian.