PART TWO (A) – INTRODUCING TECHNOLOGY TO YOUR KIDS

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How early can you introduce your kids to technology? The American Association of Pediatrics has said that a child should not be on a tablet or phone before the age of two years. After that age, it’s important to think clearly about your reasons for having your kids involved with screens. A small amount of TV, for example, could be better than a tablet, as we talked about last week. Children need to play. It’s their work. If we take that away from them, it has negative effects on their development. Be sure to set a timer when you allow your child to watch TV or use a tablet. They need to have active play as well as your attention.

Speaking of your attention, in order for you to parent your kids successfully around the use of screens, your relationship with your child is extremely important. Developing your child’s trust in you is paramount. Children need firm limits that they can depend on. Don’t be afraid of taking charge because you’re afraid of displeasing them. They need you to guide them and to be a good role model.

How do you know you’re a good role model? Because kids are so aware of what you’re doing, you should use your phone in the way you’d like them to use theirs: with a sense of balance in your life. Do you have personal contact with friends and family outside of social media? Do you meet friends for coffee, read a book or take walks in the park without your phone?

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The following are questions you need to consider before introducing a phone to your child:

1. How much time are you spending on your own phone?
2. Do you have your phone in your hand at all times? Or on the table at dinner or when feeding the kids or breast feeding?
3. Do you answer your phone when you’re with your kids? Interrupting your talking with them? Playing with them?

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4. Do you have regular play times with your kids or, if they’re older, times when you sit and talk with them, play games, read stories or go out for walks or activities outdoors
5. Do you take time just to “be”, without your phone, computer or tablet?

If you find you could make changes in your own phone or tablet use, start to do so before bringing technology into the lives of your kids. They need you to be a positive role model.

Your relationship with your kids is crucial, and, if they are going to listen to you, you’ll need to have a base of mutual trust and respect in order for them to approach you with problems such as being bullied online, for example. You want your kids to come to you for guidance, so make sure they know you’re available to them.

Here’s a short review of relationship basics:

1. Listen to what your kids are saying to you. Give your full attention.
2. Look at them when they speak to you.
3. Refrain from being judgmental or argumentative. Respect their opinions.
4. Let them know that you’re there for them and that they can bring their concerns to you.
5. Hug them often and tell them that you love them.

When your child is happy and seems well-adjusted, when she is asking for a phone, and when you are modeling a balanced use of your own phone, keeping it turned off for meals, play time with the kids and conversations with family members, you may be ready to take the next step. My next post will give suggestions on how to take that step.

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