as a grandmother of two beautiful little beings, i am interested in their development and well-being even though i am not totally responsible for it.today, while using my own technology, i saw a question posed by Momastery on facebook (btw, if you are not following them on social media, you should!) the question was this: are there any parents out there who have created a system that both honors the importance of technology in kid’s lives while also honoring the importance of healthy boundaries around their technology use?we live in a technology age. personally, i understand there are dangers (and if i forget, my husband is more than willing to remind me…often). yet, the dangers can be managed in many of the same ways we manage other potential dangers; training, accountability, communication and love. technology is a tool.just as all children need to learn how to handle other household tools, they need to be taught how to use technology, including how it works, how to take care of it, and respect for appropriate verses inappropriate uses at age appropriate levels.i may allow my granddaughter to sit in our boat and pretend to drive it; however, i remain close by, remind her what is appropriate to touch and what is not, and i am watchful for potential dangers such as falling-so that i can offer help if necessary.there is often concern that technology and media should be limited, but what matters most is how it is used. what is the content? is it being used in an intentional manner? is it developmentally appropriate? if a parent is confident with the answer to these questions, limits may become as unnecessary as on block time or book reading or dramatic play or manipulatives or sports. we don’t tell a child that his 10 minutes of puzzle making or reading for the week is up.it is important to be digitally literate and comfortable enough with the technology and the child development to know how to be appropriate, what’s effective, and what to avoid. adult involvement and interaction is as vital as it is when children are learning to cook, clean or even ride a bike safely. as children grow older, teaching skills for making wise choices, managing time and recognising risk help children who are becoming young adults learn to value balance in their life.trust your instincts. you know your child and if you think that a child’s technology time is limiting interactions with other kids or you feel a change of activity is called for, turn it off and nudge him/her in new directions. however, it’s also up to the adult to understand the child’s personality and disposition and to understand if technology is one of the ways the child chooses to interact with the world. technology skills can be as comprehensive, challenging and rewarding as the passion for sports, performing arts or writing. technology is an amazing form of creativity-it just has not reached it’s place of acceptance as an art or creative form.my grandson has learned many skills by using various technologies: not to give up because something is difficult or beyond his ability. when he comes to me to work a game through to the next highest level because he is unable to, i remind him of others times that his perservering has helped him to conquer the skill. he has learned to problem solve on his own and is learning to manage emotions like frustration and anger. my granddaughter’s favorite technology is YouTube tutorials on baking and decorating cakes. at age 6, sometimes she gives me instruction when we’re baking together. she enjoys watching but then can’t wait to practice in the kitchen. i couldn’t be prouder. it’s fun to watch them both.
finally, cut yourself some slack. sometimes, technology is also a useful tool for adults because parents have to make lunch, and need time to take a shower.
in situations like that, it is the adult’s job to make the technology time more valuable and interactive by asking questions and connecting a child’s virtual experience with real-life experiences in his/her world.training children to properly use technology may be new to most of us; however, we are pretty instinctive when it comes to what is best for our children. technology is and has been changing our world in amazing ways. learn together. keep your family’s life goals in focus and be creative.we honor the importance of technology in kid’s lives in the same way we honor other important skills we are equipping our children with…
we train and guide them
we communicate and talk to them about the family’s values
we hold them accountable and protect them
we interact and engage with them
we demonstrate balance by example
we love them
then we watch them blossom, grow, improve, excel, and enjoy!