Just as we don’t place a bag of candy in a child’s reach and expect him or her to have a developed sense of self control at a young age, we can’t expect young people to know when they need to unplug, disconnect and log-off. As adults we must create “down time” for our children to read, relax and spend time away from the constant connection to the outside social life. This may include time for family dinner, homework and certainly rest/sleep.
I often suggest that parents create a “charging station” in the kitchen or family space for all digital devices. The bedroom isn’t a great place for children to charge phones, tablets and computers as parents are unable to monitor use. Set ground rules for family expectations regarding online use, texting and social media. Talk with your children about your expectations and engage in the conversation. It is easy to monitor usage. Are their posts, texts or searches outside the agreed upon limits? Students need time to be kids – this includes some time away from the social drama and stress created by peers. Talk with your children, engage them in face-to-face conversations and promote ongoing communications.
Know the Settings on your Family’s Devices
Today’s technology offers a plethora of “parent controls”. These controls allow you, as the parent, to turn certain features on or off, control access to specific content and lock the “user” out of making changes in the settings. If you don’t want your child to access adult content, vulgar music or purchasing of apps, it is easy to block these on most devices. If you provide an iPad to your child, but don’t want them downloading the latest movies or adding an app to the iPad, you can change the settings to provide you more control. Are you interested in checking on the websites your child has been visiting? If so, learn where to find the browser history. Parenting takes active participation; it is hard work to keep up with the latest trends and devices. As a parent, if you are in doubt, simply Google Search the information you’d like to discover. You can find directions, even videos on YouTube in many cases, to manipulate the settings to meet your parental goals. Keeping our students healthy and safe is a team effort and it is hard work. It is also part of making sure our students are Ready for Tomorrow.