Fortnite. YouTube. Minecraft. Instagram. Tik Tok. Virtual Reality. Secret texting apps. Parenting in today’s wired world is so much fun. Am I right? Actually, it’s super stressful. Instagram is the reason why my 13-year-old daughter and I argued countless times during 7th grade. Technology is everywhere and it’s awesome. It helps us connect to the world and access knowledge that was reserved for the privileged few.
But, who can deny that technology gets in the way of life sometimes and that screens are taking over our lives? We’ve all been at that family dinner where everyone is more into their iPhone than the conversation. We’ve all heard that Instagram is ruining the lives of teenage girls everywhere. And, we’ve all read that video games are the reason there are badly-behaved boys.
Pulling the Plug Is Not As Easy As It Sounds
So, we’re getting smart and doing something about it. Technology-free homes are the new trend. Parents are pulling the plug and moving on to the next parenting challenge.
Except that’s where it gets really complicated. Technology is intrinsic to our kids’ social lives and their happiness (to a certain extent). Just ask the 3rd grader who has never been allowed to play Fortnite or the 8th grader who isn’t allowed to have an Instagram account.
I know a thing or two about that. I refused to let my tween have an Instagram account. She was too young and smart to care about those things. Guess what? She got one anyway. Of course, we found out. So, we did what all sensible parents would do. We confiscated her phone and locked it away forever. Or what seemed like forever, because the tension in our home was unbearable. We grew tired of the situation and tried something new.
Instead of sticking to our guns and refusing to budge, we listened to what she had to say and began to understand her reasons.
They were valid. She explained how it would help her connect with friends and show them how she viewed the world. It was a way for her to express herself and connect with others. Hmm… who knew?
We asked hard questions and discussed the threats, and finally gave her the go-ahead without taking it lightly. We did our homework and clearly outlined was allowed, and what wasn’t. She asked us to keep our comments and dad jokes to a minimum.
The upside is pretty amazing. Now, we have a place where we can see the world from her perspective. Her feed never gets old to us, because it’s a glimpse into her style and personality. If we had pulled the plug, we would have missed all her stunning pictures and clever captions.
Create Positive Connections
Technology is an amplifier, so when used correctly its effects can be positive and powerful. So, before you pull the plug, consider the alternative. You may find a new way to connect with your kids that makes life better!
All families are facing unique challenges when it comes to technology in their lives. Whether you have a little one who wants to begin playing Minecraft or a teenager that wants to be on Instagram, here are a few things that will make the decision-making process less overwhelming:
- Ask questions. There is usually a reason they want something (sometimes it’s a good one). Hear them out. At the very least you will learn something about them.
- Do your homework. Learn about the technology, so you can make an educated decision. Not all screen time is created equal.
- Set rules and boundaries that are clear, and leave no room for interpretation. Be a good example.
- Lean in. Play the games with your children. Look at their content. Watch the YouTuber with them. It may not be your favorite thing to do, but it’s the right thing to do.
- Encourage learning. If your kids love video games, encourage them to learn how to make them. If they are into social media, challenge them to learn about photography and editing.