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Tech and your kids: how much is too much?

October 15, 2012

In today’s digital era, tech devices have taken on a whole new role (and meaning). They have become kids’ most popular accessory and prized possession. iPhones, iPods, laptops, tablets- you name it and it is almost guaranteed that the kid sitting next to you has access to it. But why have these tech devices become so popular? Simple. They are an easily accessible way to entertain kids of all ages for hours on end- from the short trip to the grocery store, to the much-anticipated family road trip. While these devices can come in handy and better yet, to kids, how do parents decide when enough in enough?

A recent article from Mashable brought to light a growing issue for parents in today’s tech savvy home: Are parents raising tech-addicted kids? The author points out that while technology can be a good thing, there is a new type of addiction on the horizon that parents need to be aware of. For example, when a child decides to throw a temper tantrum early in the morning because he/she isn’t allowed to play Angry Birds on the iPad. That right there could be a sure-tell sign that there is a bigger issue at hand. Or when parents decide to send their kids to camp because of their “no gadgets allowed rule” so that they can be completely unplugged. It may be time to give our kids, and ourselves, a reality check in the tech department.

Every family must decide for themselves how much is too much when it comes to time spent playing on a digital screen. So what are some ways that families can create a balance between the tech-world and everything else?

Play by the rules. Set clear in your home on the time allowed spent on digital devices and on how this time can be spent. The way kids spend time glued to a screen can be just as important as for how long.

Play up the importance of relationships. In today’s digital world, the means of communication has changed from face-to-face time, to chats online, or texts over the phone. Set a rule for no technology at the dinner table to limit distractions and allow for quality family time. Have your child invite their friends over on a routinely basis to encourage playtime without the need for digital entertainment.

Play outside! It’s no surprise that as our digital world advances, our children’s health seems to worsen, given that childhood obesity rates are going nowhere but up. Encourage your kids to spend time outside by putting a time limit on tech devices and STICKING to it. Creating and enforcing this expectation will help decrease the amount of times you hear “Mom, but…” or “Just five more minutes!” in the future.

Balance is key. What that balance looks like is up to your family to decide. But remember, parents can be just as guilty of tech-addiction as kids, and the only way to create healthy habits for your kids is by setting a positive example. In this case, it’s “do as I say AND as I do”.

What are some ways you set limitations in your household? Do your kids spend more time on tech devices than you would like them to?