Kids & Technology Part I
There are no bones about it, summer is here! It’s hot and humid…kids are excited that they don’t have to wake up for school. So now what? Will it be a summer of late nights on some form of technology for your child? Maybe your intention isn’t to have your child playing games or apps all summer, but your child is probably dreaming about it…
Video game/tech addiction is now more real than ever. As we raise our humans in a world full of technology, we continue to use it to appease our kids, as a replacement for self-regulation or coping skills, and to give us a little break from our parenting roles…we are creating and enabling our kids to be this way.
I know, it comes up a lot. It’s not my goal to re-hash the pros and cons of tech use. The point is that technology is here. It’s all around us. It’s changing all the time. It’s probably not going anywhere any time soon. It’s important that they know how to use it and that we teach our kids how to use it appropriately (that is our job as parents). Some tips:
Allow your child to be your teacher. Let them show you how to play a game, they love it when they oversee your learning! When you allow your child to show you, pay attention to what they know, how they maneuver around technology, how well versed they are. It will help you to know how you might need to guide them.
Be nosey. Check out the apps they are using. This helps you know what your kids are downloading and if they are making bad choices with the apps.
Play the games they are playing. Talk about it with them for a few minutes a day or every few days. One way we, as professionals, connect with kids that come into our practices is to know what they are talking about…and we do that by playing the games they play.
Teach them what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior when interacting in the online games. Teach them what cyberbullying is. Teach them that people aren’t always who they say they are…it’s okay to inform them that there are bad people out there.
It’s important for me to note that kids get excited about the games and videos they watch. They want to talk about it. Listen to them. If the talk becomes overwhelming for you to listen too…like it’s constant…give them a time frame to discuss it. “Okay Henry, we can talk all about the games from 7-7:15, then I have to give Sophie a bath.”
A common theme with technology and kids is that kids lose the self-regulation skills needed to in daily life when they are gaming a lot. Self-regulation is basically the skills humans need to regulate their emotions, you know, calming down by walking away, taking deep breaths, not melting down about everything little thing. Some kids can handle screen time in larger amounts while others not so much. If you notice that your child has behavior problems after the games are off, it may be time to experiment with the amount of time spent on it. Decrease the time, the days, or whatever is necessary. If your child isn’t ready for the responsibility of gaming, you may have to consider taking the game away for a bit.
Since technology has become more and more important in society, it’s important to set healthy limits around it. Take the time to teach your child the correct ways to handle situations, learning the games they are playing (or people they are chatting with), and/or talking to them about technology will actually strengthen your relationship with your child…a strong relationship has less behavior problems.