How to Keep Tech from Taking Over Your Family
Eric Schneider | My Soul
As a parent, it’s tempting to use the iPad or smartphone as a babysitter, but honestly, aren’t you just as mesmerized and absorbed with your own device sometimes (to the point of ignoring your kid)?
With entire recovery centers set up to help adults deal with tech addiction, clearly, technology, particularly in the form of smartphones and tablets, is practically inescapable in our modern world. For parents, this brings up disconcerting questions about their own child-raising abilities.
The device obsession cuts both ways, so here are two strategies to stop the tech takeover.
Put a Clock On It — For Them
Children may be even more technology-obsessed than the parents, especially if family rules are loose or nonexistent. However, if children become too reliant on screen time, it leads to tech-excessive habits that are hard to break.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends very limited or no screen time for children under age two and restricting it to the range of one or two hours for other youth. This is especially tricky when using these devices becomes a bargaining chip to have kids clean their rooms or go to bed without a fuss. Yes, iPad time may be an effective incentive, but it also plays into the technology trap.
Wean the Whole Family
The most direct way of not allowing tech to hijack our family lives is simply limiting screen use for everyone. For parents, means cutting back on email, social media and web browsing, especially during outings with the kids, where the goal should be interactive family time. Getting a conversation going with your child will always be more rewarding than checking out cat memes. As for kid use, keeping the bar low never hurts. If they get accustomed to having 20 or 30 minutes on the iPad, then they’ll be thrilled if they get an extra 10 or 15 minutes on occasion.
Rediscover the World
The best way to move the whole family away tech reliance (your spouse included) is to regularly remind everyone of the wonders of experiencing the world — and not through a screen. Take a long hike or a daytrip and only allow smartphones or tablets as cameras. Then, the next time one of you is intently gazing at your device, it may be to revisit the memories made while blissfully offline.