We know that our kids spend a lot of time online and often from multiple devices. From homework and listening to music to instant messaging friends and checking out the latest on social media, the reality is they’re probably using a screen every day. Also, sometimes digital devices can also be an easy option to keep our younger ones occupied in our busy lives. Even more challenging is the 24/7 access, the amount of screen time and the balance (or lack of) between online and offline. I know we say this all the time – the best thing we can do to help our kids is to have regular conversations that help build good habits and careful decision making when it comes to realities of having access to so much technology today.

When I think about managing digital devices and developing good habits I think about three things; Balance; Screen Time and Being a Role Model.

Balance

It’s important to help our children (and ourselves!) maintain a healthy balance between online and offline activities.  Some ways to do this:

Have a “no screen” day
We had no screen Tuesday. No special reason it was Tuesday, that’s just the day we all agreed to and that included no TV on Tuesdays too!

Provide alternatives to screens
Having fun crafts, games, books, puzzles, puppets, and art supplies available with easy access lets kids see that they really do have other options other than digital devices. Outdoor activities can become a regular feature of weekends and something that every family member can enjoy and benefit from.

Manage Screen Time

How much screen time is too much? Ah, the question we get asked the most! There is no “right” answer because this one is personal – personal to you and your family and values.  A few ideas that may help:

Time Trade
My 15 year old son earns screen time by practising his basketball skills. Every half hour of physical activity earns him an hour on his xBox. If I’d been on-to-it, I would have connected his screen time to the amount of vacuuming he did for me!

Choose the better kind of screen time
Look for educational content which develops a range of skills: cognitive skills, early maths skills, early reading and writing skills, fine motor skills, creativity, imagination, language even understand more about the world.
CommonSenseMedia makes it easy to find great media (age-appropriate apps, games, websites, movies etc) for kids.

Be a Role Model

Remember that saying, “Monkey see, monkey do?”  

No devices at the dinner table
This has to be the best rule we ever made. Even our visitors comply! This works when we’re out too! Try The Phone Stack! It’s hilarious!

Be present
When your child is trying to show you something, or have a conversation with you, put your device down and they will be more likely to as well.

Final Thoughts

These were just three things that immediately sprung to my mind when thinking about building good habits for managing the many digital devices in our lives and our children’s live today . What do you think? Is there something critical that I missed? If you’re a parent, what do you struggle with? What habits are you helping your children build?

More Resources for Parenting in the Digital Age

Parenting in a technology-rich world is not easy! At Eduro Learning one of the new things we’re most excited about is our new series of online classes and resources designed specifically for parents. To give you a taste of what our Parenting in the Digital Age online course is like, check out some of our FREE resources for parents and our videos where we share some of our thoughts, ideas, tips and strategies for parenting in the digital age.

Kim kicks us off with this video, How is Learning Different Today? plus she shares some more tips here.  And I chat about Technology Never Sleeps: Managing our Many Digital Devices which goes along with this post.

Teacher friends, you might find these resources and videos helpful for those times when you’re having conversations with parents about these topics too. So go ahead and grab the freebies and watch our videos (even better, subscribe to our playlist)!  We’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas and strategies too!

7 Things All Parents Need to Know about Kids and Tech

In this FREE digital download from Eduro Learning, you find 7 things all parents need to know about kids and technology; practical suggestions & strategies for starting conversations with your kids about the topics covered; and further reading/additional resources to help support you to parent in the digital age.