We are surrounded by cellphones, TV's, laptops, tablets and gaming consoles. We are consuming that technology like never before - to stay connected, to keep in touch, to communicate and to socialise. We recognise that this is different from when we were young and therefore we are able to USUALLY (with exceptions - anyone played Candy Crush!?) separate ourselves and maintain some semblance of balance.
Our children are different. They know no different.
Their role models - including parents, peers and celebrities - are using using technology all the time and children see this as normal. Without boundaries and guidance these 'digital natives' will struggle to find a balance.
SO how do we - as good parents - manage this? Here are my suggestions - things that I strive (it's not easy!) to follow with my son & daughter:
1. SET EXPECTATIONS THAT APPLY TO THE WHOLE FAMILY
Different rules for different members of the family will not work. Any expectations have to be agreed upon by parents and siblings alike. They need to see you agreeing with the rules that you are setting them. Practice what you preach!
2. MAKE THE AGREEMENTS TOGETHER
If you involve your children in the discussion they are much more likely to agree to the consequences. They will have ownership on the decisions made especially if it was them that suggested it in the first place. It's a team effort!
3. SET LIMITS
Whether you limit the time or the frequency, boundaries need to be in place. No matter what, you are still the parents and consequently, still should be making the decisions that are best for your kids. This should be a given. No means no!
4. EXPLORE THE ALTERNATIVES
There are so many other exciting, fun, interesting things to do as a family that do not require technology. Trust me - there is - you just have to search it out. Whether it's a trip to the park or the zoo, or quality family time building, making or playing something, you'll soon realise that technology is not the only option...
5. THINK ABOUT THE 'WHERE'
Access to technology needs to be monitored. When it is accessed behind closed doors, you - the parent - are no longer in control. Cellphone, laptop and iPad use should be limited to public areas of your home where a quick glance is sufficient to ensure the appropriateness of the site or game that they are playing.
6. THINK ABOUT THE WHERE... AND THEN THINK AGAIN
I see kids on iPads in cars, restaurants, parks - all over the place. The iPad is seen as the new babysitter. And it's a damn good one too! However, we should still be in control - technology isn't the only answer; a novel, a toy, a game, a sketchbook are all great alternatives as is conversation. Real time, two way, verbal communication that doesn't involve thumbs, electronic devices or a wifi signal :)
Ultimately, we are teaching our children what is right and what is wrong. We are teaching them how to behave and how to make good choices and even better decisions. This is not about technology this is about basic parenting. Did YOUR parents tell you that you had enough TV, that you weren't allowed out to play until you had done your chores, that you had to put the comic down until after you had eaten? I bet they did - and I bet YOU did as you were told...!
What do YOU think? What have I missed? And what do you agree/disagree with...?
Here is the presentation (my first Haiku Deck - great stuff!) I made to introduce this to parents from our school:
Hello, I am Tony Potts, Primary Assistant Principal at the American International School of Lusaka, Zambia. Please feel free to ask me ANY questions...
I was previously a tech integration specialist, ManageBac Coordinator, iPad Coach & ICT/MYP Design Teacher in the same school and before this I was the PK-12 Director of Digital Learning, ICT Coordinator, teacher and technology integration specialist at GEMS World Academy, Dubai.
Here are some of the sites that I have been involved in creating:
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