#BH5MinFix: Simple Ways to Model Good Tech Behavior
#BH5MinFix is all about sharing simple strategies that help make your life as a parent a little easier. Every week we focus on a different topic, last week we talked about easy ways to make school lunches and this week our theme is technology.
When it comes to the digital age we live in, it’s so hard to know how to best set kids up for success. As Amy wrote about in her blog post this week, you want your children to know their way around technology, but don’t want them to become dependent on gadgets. What is the best way to help a child strike the right balance when it comes to technology?
Just as with so many other things in life, kids will learn how to navigate the digital world from the example we set for them. It’s our job to show them the best ways to make technology part of (not a main ingredient in) a healthy, happy life.
Here are some simple strategies that can help you model good tech behavior for your children:
- Put your phone out of sight (sometimes). Decide the places where your phone doesn’t have to be front and center. Perhaps it’s at meal-times, whether at home or when you’re out; our blogger Morgan and her husband have vowed to keep their phone use to a minimum when they’re out at restaurants. “It is far too easy to pull your phone out and scroll through your Twitter feed while you’re waiting for a table to open up at a restaurant,” she says, “Leaving your phone in your pocket and, instead, engaging in conversation is a much better way to spend your time together.” Or maybe your phone stays stashed away during your child’s soccer games or art classes.
- Be purposeful about your tech time. When you go on your phone or open your laptop, have a specific reason for why you’re using it. (Nope, checking Facebook doesn’t count, though we do enjoy scrolling our feeds too.) Be intentional with your screen time, show your child that your phone and computer can be useful tools to help you find the answer to a question, learn a new skill or connect with faraway relatives.
- Find new sources of fun. Make a list of non-digital pastimes that you enjoy and carve out time for them. Read a paperback book, do a craft project or build something for the house. By seeing you engaged in your own hobbies, your kids will see that tech gadgets don’t have to be a go-to source of entertainment when boredom hits.
- Be a good digital citizen. It’s important that children know that etiquette and manners apply to the online world too. Though it’s tempting to multi-task, finish up a text or an e-mail and then engage with your child when you can give them your full attention (or vice versa; talk first, and tackle the text or email later). For children who are older, show them how to interact on social media in a respectful way. A good place to start? “I ask my son for permission before I share photos of him on social media,” says Devorah Heitner, PhD, founder of Raising Digital Natives, and guest speaker for our upcoming Family Matters webinar, “It helps him recognize that sharing is a choice and that some things are private. It is also a way to show him that I respect his privacy. My hope is that in modeling this behavior for him, he’ll be more likely to ask his friends for their permission before he shares a picture of them.”