Kids love everything shiny and new… or wait. Is that adults? Either way, kids do not have that little voice that says, “That’s enough. Time to do something else.” All they have is a “go” switch. As adults and especially as parents, it is our job to turn that focus onto constructive things. Technology has enabled us to teach our kids things about the world that we did not find out until we were adults. However, just because technology allows for so many good things, it does not mean that kids should be allowed unbridled access to all things tech. In our family, technology is a side thought. It is the last thing to gain access to after all responsibilities are taken care of. For us, this looks like:
No technology during the week. This includes iPads, computers, TV, movies, video games, etc. During the school week, the only time they are allowed near a screen is if it is necessary for homework, and then, they are not to access other websites or any other type of tech after homework is over.
They can use their iPads, tv, etc. during the weekend IF they get all A’s and B’s on homework, tests, quizzes, or anything else. If they receive a C or below, they do not get their tech during the weekend.
They can only get on their tech after all chores are done on the weekends.
Their phone are just that: phones. There are no apps or social media downloaded there. There is no internet use on the phone. Get them into the habit of going to one location for games and one for internet. You do not want them to have unlimited access to apps all of the time. Plus, if there are no apps on the phone, you do not need to regulate its usage.
They all play 2 or 3 competitive (AAU or national level) sports. They can only use the tech when they are on their way to games or after games. They are not allowed to play 1 hour before each game to get their minds ready to play.
They have no tech in their rooms at night. They turn in iPads and phones before bed.
They have no access to YouTube. This has been banned for 2 1/2 years because there is absolutely no way to ban access to bad content. Instead of coming up behind them and looking at search history, it was simpler to ban it all together. My daughter thought she could sneak YouTube last summer and promptly lost her iPad for the entire summer on the first day of summer. She did not use her iPad until after the first week of school in August.
If any of the above criteria is not met, they lose all tech for that weekend.
There are no “addictive” games installed. This includes Roblox and especially Fortnight. There is nothing good coming from a child being addicted to a game, and it saddens me when I hear so many parents laughing that their child just can’t stop playing it, even at night. Also, they do not have any games with chat features. They do not need to be chatting with strangers.
They have no social media whatsoever. I have seen no articles where social media is good for kids or their self-esteem.
They are not allowed to download games that are rated 12+ unless we approve it via the App Store. There is actually a setting on the iPads where you can regulate allowable ratings for apps.
All of this sounds like a lot: it was to us at first. However, getting the kids out of the habit of automatically getting on their iPad or turning on the TV when they come home is worth it. Our children would prefer to stay inside and watch anime for 12 hours, but we force them out of that habit. We purchased them cruising bikes and they go outside of the house often. They know where their friends live and ride their bikes over there. One of our kids is a favorite at the country clubhouse where we live. They know him by name, and he knows what days they are having parties to get free food. They never would know what is around them or available to them if you do not force them out. Now our kids (11, 10, 9) see other kids who can’t get off of their devices and speak about how bad it looks. They also know that while those kids are playing games or watching movies, they could be perfecting their craft- whether that is sports, legos, building, or literally anything other than playing video games. It also allows the kids to actually enjoy their iPads when they finally get to use them, because they know it was a job well done.
If you don’t know where to begin, cut it all out. Just stop everything and slowly reintroduce. There is a reason that Steve Jobs, who invented the iPad, did not allow his own children to have one. There is a reason why Silicon Valley executives are raising tech-free kids. It is a lot. There are a lot of things vying for your children’s attention. Knowing where to put your focus is a skill that many adults have not mastered. Help your children master their focus by showing them where to put it. Do not tempt your kids. The devices are made to be addicting. Set your kids up for success by doing the hard thing now. Your kids need it.