As most parents know, your kids are watching you all of the time. You don’t have to sit down and have a formal conversation with them to teach them things; even kids who seem like they rarely pay attention are observing and learning from your behavior.
As your kids start getting their first smartphones, tablets and laptops, you want them to be responsible. You don’t want them to spend all day in front of a screen, and you want them to be kind to others over the Internet. One of the best ways to ensure that your kids are responsible with their technology is to be a great role model with your own devices.
With this in mind, the following tips can help parents set an excellent example with their use of technology.
One of the best things parents can do to be good technology role models is to turn their devices off as often as possible—and definitely during family time. While you might be excited about your new LG Optimus or the latest iPhone and all of the features and apps that can help your busy schedule, if you are on it all of the time, then your children will mimic your actions when they get their own phones.
Moreover, each time we take a quick peek at our texts while aiding our kids with their homework, or each time we interrupt them to say, “I’m sorry, I have to answer this email really quickly,” we’re sending a clear message that we prefer technology over people, claims Dot Complicated.
When your children get their own devices, you will still want them to pay attention to you, so when they are speaking to you, make sure to be fully present with them. Resist the urge to constantly check emails and texts, and instead give them your full attention. You also can avoid the distractions by setting some family rules about screen time. For example, no phones or tablets at the dinner table. Be sure to follow the rules you establish.
Limit Your Game Time
Yes, you’ve been trying desperately to get past level 199 in Candy Crush so you can crow about it to all of your friends on Facebook. However, as DigiParenthood notes, keep in mind that your kids are keenly observing how much time you spend playing games on your phone. Show them the importance of discipline, and that work should come before pleasure by finishing your necessary tasks first. Finish your chores around the house, help your kids with their homework and walk the dog all before sitting down to play a game.
Many time limit apps out there such as TimeLock, allow parents to designate a certain amount of time their child can use the device. This is a wonderful tool for you to track how long they spend on the Internet each day, and you can set your own time limits to show your kids that you limit your game time as well.
Be a Good Social Media Citizen
We can talk to our kids about the importance of privacy on social media sites until we are blue in the face, but if our Facebook page is full of posts about personal experiences and situations, our words will probably fall on deaf ears. Use social media very carefully, and never post anything you wouldn’t want your young children to see—because chances are they will. Also, be kind and polite while online, even when others are rude; this will help to show your kids the importance of online etiquette.
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison