Helping kids manage technology

Teaching your kids how to manage technology early helps them as they become adults.

Technology is everywhere in our daily lives, so teaching your children healthy technology habits will help them build good habits as they grow older. Kids use technology to support learning, but also to communicate with their friends and engage in free-time activities such as gaming. What happens when kids overuse technology or need a break? It’s up to parents to step in and help them learn healthy tech habits.

Michigan State University Extension recommends the following tips for helping manage technology.

Create tech-free zones for parents and kids. These are places or times where technology is not allowed. Some places might include bedrooms or bathrooms, and times like meal time or family time might be tech-free times. This allows the family to sit down and reconnect with each other.

Turn off sound notifications. Does the bing or ring of your phone send you running to check it immediately? Turning off sound notifications can break the physical connection kids have to their devices. Think about turning off sound notifications or silencing them during certain times of the day to allow for distraction-free periods or not feeling like we have to respond immediately.

Know when to walk away. Just like in real life, we can have reactions to what is on our technology. We need to know when to walk away, and teaching children that it’s OK to not respond and walk away, especially when they are emotional, is an important skill.

What you say matters. If you wouldn’t say it in person to someone, then it shouldn’t be said over technology. It’s easy to say things through technology that you might not say to someone in person. We need to teach our children that our words are important no matter where we say them. Words can be hurtful and have an impact even through technology, so it’s important kids understand how to be kind when using technology.

Ask questions. It is important we teach our children to ask questions when they are unclear about the meaning of something or something that was said. Parents should encourage their children to come to them if they are uncomfortable or see something they don’t understand. If they aren’t clear about something their friends said or shared, encourage them to talk in-person or question their friend about what they meant.

Model good practices. Kids look to their parents and other important adults as role models, so we should practice what we teach. Allow them to see you using technology in appropriate ways and responding to technology in healthy ways so they will see what healthy use of technology looks like.

Teaching your kids healthy tech habits will help set them up for future success as technology demands increase and become more complex into adulthood. For more articles on child development, academic success, parenting and life skill development, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

To learn about the positive impact children and families experience due to MSU Extension programs, read our 2016 Impact Report. Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the Michigan 4-H website.

Did you find this article useful?