A lot of parents wish they would have never introduced their child to technology. Not because it’s innately bad, but simply because it is so consuming. A far cry from what technology was like decades ago, today’s devices and, more appropriately, the apps and the games we use on them are highly addictive. And, sadly, they were specifically designed to be that way. Unlike old computer games, which could hold even the most bored child’s attention for just ten or twenty minutes, today’s games can hook children of all ages (and adults too, of course) for hours and hours on end.
Additionally, not only are these games something for children to do when there’s nothing else to do, but they are so stimulating that it makes it difficult for children to think about anything else. With some new bonus, offer, or video around every corner, children’s brains become wired so that they literally crave getting their next “fix”.
Of course, this is just the dark side of technology.
When you look behind the curtain a little bit more, you realize that there’s a lot of good that can come from your child understanding how to use technology. Like adults, children can learn that online videos, for example, are a great way to learn how to do something or about a new interest. Knowing how to troubleshoot technology is another life lesson: You can be responsible and fix problems when they arise; nothing is too difficult to figure out.
Many popular games with children, especially those where they play with friends online, are also great examples of building teamwork, patience, and communication skills. (Just make sure your child knows the rules about who they can play with and keep them in view so you can monitor who they’re talking to.)
As parents, it’s easy to wish away technology and your child’s love for it knowing that, yes, a lot of your problems could be resolved if games, apps, phones, internet, etc. weren’t part of the equation. But accepting that this is the world we live in will better help you navigate the issues that arise rather than just wholeheartedly resenting technology altogether.
If you have a child who loves technology, specific games or devices, then use these helpful tips below to keep a positive (and safe) perspective about the role of technology in your child’s life…
Don’t demonize it. Telling or showing your child that you disapprove of something they’re interested in can create an uphill battle for your relationship. While you can definitely express concern and have firm ground rules for what’s acceptable and what isn’t, always nagging your child when they are watching a show or playing a game will only make yourself the enemy. Instead, show interest in what they’re doing. Ask questions and sit with them. Watch yourself as you talk about technology and do your best to continue framing it in a positive way.
Set clear expectations. Lots of parents are vague when it comes to rules with technology, which can lead to a lot of frustration for both parties. Rather than bemoaning the fact that your child is “always on” a device, actually track their time so that you both are aware of how much of a problem it really is. Parents often exaggerate how much time their children spend on screens, forgetting all of the other activities they do each day. Of course, screen time is a serious issue for many children, which is why keeping an accurate log of how much of the day is being spent with blue light is important.
Offer alternatives. Many kids really don’t know what else to do with their free time except for watching shows or playing games on devices. Before you complain, think of an activity for them to do instead. (Bonus points if it’s an activity you can do with them.) When in doubt, get yourself and your child out of the house and away from all temptations. Yes, they’re likely to complain at first, but typically just ten minutes into an adventure and all will be forgiven.