This holiday season our family took their first big vacation! With a four- and six-year-old I was incredibly nervous about, not one, but two fairly lengthy plane rides, so I stocked up on the technology. I downloaded several movies and lots of new games on two iPads in hopes that my kids would be happily entertained during the flights. It worked! They were glued to the screen and content the entire time. It worked like a gem, until we got home…
I have to explain that we are a family that is pretty strict on technology use, which is probably why it worked so well on the plane… it was totally new for our kids. However, they are now officially addicted to technology and craving more! My four-year-old constantly requests to play on the iPad, and while several of the games can actually teach him something, I had to sternly remind him of our technology rules and expectations.
I used the T.I.M.E. approach. T.I.M.E. provides you with a roadmap to managing your children’s use of technology. While some of this is more relevant to older kids, it can still be applied to younger ones and it’s never too early to set your expectations with technology.
- T: Talk to your kids about your expectations regarding their use of technology so there’s no ambiguity.
- I: Instruct them on the consequences for violating these expectations.
- M: Monitor their usage — especially their social media interactions on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.
- E: Encourage your kids when they do something positive, online or off.
It works. The kids know how to earn technology now, how often and how long they can use it. One more thing: There’s a hidden bonus in all of this. On one hand, electronics can be used to encourage and reward good behavior. On the contrary, the more kids become attached to their various gadgets, the more tools you have to issue consequences for negative behaviors. For instance, if your teenage son won’t do his homework, take away his video game console. If your daughter is disrespectful and rude to you and other adults, take away her cell phone. You’ll find that your kids will soon come around to your way of thinking once their precious electronic devices are taken from them.