One of the biggest complaints I hear about children today is that they spend too much time playing video games or texting, and not enough time exploring the great outdoors enjoying their childhood.
Our children are growing up in a world we wouldn’t have even imagined possible when we were young. Literally everything is available at the push of a button.
Do you remember when VCR’s first came out, when Atari was a must have, or when your family purchased their very first home computer? I do!
Today parents face a different challenge than our parents did. Allowing your child to have a personal electronic or gaming device means you have to set firm boundaries.
These boundaries aren’t only to keep them from developing “game brain” (which is what I like to call it when my kiddos have been playing video games long enough that their eyes start to glaze over), or becoming overweight from decreased physical activity, but also for their safety, especially if their device allows them access to the internet.
All three of my older children (ages 8 to 12) have their own personal iPod, a few of them have handheld gaming devices as well, and even my four-year-old has an educational electronic handheld gaming device.
Most children have access to some form of electronic gadget even if it’s occasionally playing a game on their parents’ phones. When we decided to purchase our children’s devices, we sat down with them and laid out a plan, making sure everyone understood the rules.
It was also the perfect opportunity to teach them a lesson in responsibility.
Here are a few tips for setting boundaries when it comes to your children and their electronic devices:
1. Rules: Make sure you make the rules clear BEFORE you hand over a new electronic device to your child. Making the rules clear beforehand leaves little room for the inevitable “I didn’t know” excuse, or any confusion.
2. Privilege: At our house, our children understand that the devices technically belong to us since we purchased them. This means that at any given time, for any given reason, we may choose to confiscate them, and this is our right as their parents. It is clear that having the device is a privilege, not a right.
3. Limits: Limit the amount of time they may spend on the devices. In our family, this depends on many factors that include having a good attitude, chores being completed, what time of day it is, etc.
4. Safety: Use safety measures like parental controls or increased privacy settings. Because of the ages of our children, their devices are set to not allow them access to social media like Facebook, or any online site.
5. Passwords: Do yourself a favor and set an iTunes password that your children DO NOT know! This will keep you from getting those accidental $100 iTunes bills. I’ve heard of this happening to other parents.
6. Night Time: Each night, our children place their iPods and gaming devices in a basket on my desk. This prevents any late night playing in their bedrooms, or late night texting.
7. Mix in Screen Free Activities: Crafting is a great activity for kids with tons of benefits: problem solving, building self-esteem, creative thinking and more. Tie the activity to the device (sneaky) to let them add their own personal touch to it. Our girls found a fun way to add some fashion flair to their ear buds with ALEX’s Earphone Couture craft kits. There are two different ear bud styles and they’re perfect for tween girls!
These are just a few of the things I recommend when allowing your children access to phones and electronic devices. What do you do in your household?