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28 June, 2018

Digital Dilemma

Our children as digital dwellers

These days we hear terms like wired children and digital natives. Do you feel as though your child has immigrated to digital land and you can’t seem to make a real connection with them?

Do you worry that your child is having more fun with gadgets than with friends? Concerned with how your primary grader snobs books; relies too much on spell-check to spell, and is texting all the time instead of speaking face-to-face with their sibling in the next room? Do you fear that social media is taking the place of making and keeping real friends?

Well you are not alone.

While most modern parents like the convenience that technology brings to us, they are also quite worried that it is taking over their kid’s lives in a negative and over-the-top kind of way. These worries go beyond the health and cognitive consequences of prolonged screen exposure. They are concerned about social skills, learning problems and attention deficit.

How is a responsible parent supposed to go about this problem? You may be tempted to take away all forms of technology and get back to basics.

But let’s face it, our kids are going to need to be oriented with technology anyway if they are to keep up with the life and work trends of the near future.

Instead of hiding that iPad forever, it’s best if you teach your kids how to integrate technology into everyday living in a way that encourages communication, education, and building healthy relationships. It is our job to teach our children not only by rule but by example how to use technology within limits. This is a job that parents before us didn’t need to worry about. But we do now!

You can create rules for technology use in your household and clearly communicate such rules to your children. One way to do this is by sitting down together and creating an agreement that lays out the rules and expectations regarding use of cell phones, gaming devices, and social media – and the consequences if these rules are broken.

Limit and monitor. And stick to the rules! Even if this means ignoring their scowls, tears and tantrums.

Easier said than done. But it must be done!

Rules define habits and habits are the roots of discipline. Technology shouldn’t be an exception to discipline. There is no better time to start a positive relationship with technology than in childhood. Parents are the critical teachers of technology as tools; not as a substitute for tried and tested ways of connecting with others and enjoying meaningful fun.