By Barbara Jolie, Guest Contributor to TechAddiction
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are solely those of the author and are not necessarily the views of TechAddiction and/or Dr. Conrad.
As someone whose life is centered very squarely in the world of the Web 2.0—I do, after all, mostly write about the advantages of online education—my attitudes toward technology don't necessarily immediately attack our gadgets. I do, as a parent, however, understand the dangers. Aside from predators, bullying, being brainwashed by online advertising, etc., there's the problem of addiction. Too much of anything is a bad thing, and I think this applies both to children as well as to adults. I believe that adults have the responsibility to stem this addiction in the first place, and it all starts at home. Here's how to create a home environment that encourages the healthy use of technology.
1. Don't allow any Internet-enabled devices in your children's bedrooms.
Kids will be kids, as they don't yet have the regulatory mechanism that enables them to really understand how best to spend their time. If you give a kid a computer, laptop, iPad, etc., she'll spend hours upon hours on it. Allowing your child to access the Internet in a private space like her room not only invites trouble—she can surf unsavory sites if she feels that no one is watching—but it encourages addiction. Many kids with computers in their rooms will spend hours on the Internet when they should be sleeping. All internet access should be available only in a public, controlled space like the family living room.
2. Surf the Internet with your child to encourage the best uses of the Internet.
Of course, your child will likely use the Internet on his own, and that's fine. But every once in a while, surf the Internet with your child. Recommend her educational sites, like news sites, that encourage her to become more curious about the world around her. Kids emulate their parents, so they'll likely emulate the way that you surf the Internet after you do it often enough together.
3. Place time limits on the use of technology, and balance it out with outdoor leisure activities.
The only way to stop addiction before it starts is to limit the use of technology. Personally, a good rule of thumb for me is one hour or non-academic related Internet use per day. For every hour that my children spend in front of a screen, I require that they spend an equal amount of time outdoors, riding their bikes, playing games, walking the dog, or just running around and being kids.
4. Don't allow children to be in front of a screen at least two hour before bedtime.
What many parents may not know is that any sort of stimulation before bed can seriously compromise your child's quality of sleep. Light from screens, caffeine, sugar, etc., right before bed can therefore have a serious physical and mental health impact. Personally, I disallow all stimulants two to three hours before bed, and I enact a routine in which both me and my kids together take time to wind down before sleeping with a cup of chamomile tea or warm milk and a bedtime story.
These are, of course, only a few ways to stem the addictive pervasiveness of technology. Most importantly, though, demonstrate to your kids how much more rewarding the real, lived, visceral world can be when it's not mediated through some screen or another. Put down the phone yourself. Talk to your kids. Hug them often.
Guest Author Bio
This guest post is contributed Barbara Jolie, who enjoys writing about trends in the academic world. Even when she's not blogging, Barbara is always contemplating and considering issues concerning education and modern society. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Creating a Healthy Tech Environment at Home