by Kim Moon
You’ve heard it before and I’ll say it again: Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs you’ll ever have. But parenting in the age of technology, devices, screens and iPhones is testing new boundaries of sanity.
My daughter is currently a high school senior, and I’ve been thinking about how I would do things differently if I knew back then what I know now. Did she really need an iPhone in 5th grade?
“But mom, all my friends have a phone.”
My advice to parents is to WAIT as long as possible!
Here are a few other thoughts and suggestions I have on our children’s use of technology.
Snapchat, Instagram and Other Apps
Become familiar with the apps or games your child likes to play and use parental controls to set limits on Wi-Fi.
I like the idea of having a basket in the kitchen to collect all devices at night. Some kids are inclined to stay up until 2 a.m. looking at Instagram “likes” and Snapchat “streaks.” (A “streak” is when you send snaps back and forth with a friend for several consecutive days. Snapchat rewards you with special emojis if you have a high streak.)
Each family is different and will have to decide on screen time rules. Research says babies under 2 should completely avoid digital media; children ages 2 to 5 should not have more than one hour per day.
As your children get older, make a plan to incorporate face-to-face interaction as much as possible. It’s discouraging to see people – even the adults – on their phones at restaurants and people looking down as they walk. Let’s keep the art of conversation alive with our children!
Your children are watching everything you do, and they will do the same. Be a good role model for your own use of digital media. I will admit that I have an addiction to my Netflix shows, but I turn the TV off and read at least 20 pages a night. At least I can show my daughter that it’s important to work toward a few goals!
Keep the lines of communication open with your child, and keep up with what they’re doing. (I certainly didn’t read every text, but I remember having to look up “SMH” and other abbreviations that I’d never seen before!)
Talk about consequences of digital behavior with them. Teens need to understand that whatever they share online leaves a digital footprint. Reputations can be ruined in a matter of seconds.
Part of growing up is learning from our mistakes. Kids will be kids, and technology can be fun when used appropriately, but make sure to get to know your child’s friends, both on and offline. I had to intervene sometimes to find out where my daughter was, using her iPhone or the Life 360 app. She didn’t like it at first, but it was for her safety.
As parents, you do the best job you can as you navigate through different stages of life. I have survived the teen years with many prayers as well as help and advice from my parents.
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