10 Things Parents Should Think About When It Comes to Kids and Technology – from a School Technology Integration Specialist

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  1. Develop your own personal philosophy on when your child should use your iPad or phone before they ask – like when they are born! Don’t wait until he or she is 2 and beg to play Angry Birds. As your child grows you may have to adjust your expectations based on maturation, but it is good to have a guideline in mind.
  2. When you do decide the time is right, don’t just hand your child the keys to the Ferrari. Even a well-meaning child can access inappropriate content accidentally. Every smart phone or tablet has parental controls, but they don’t work if you don’t turn them on. Consider an app that will restrict your child to particular apps as well as filtering content.
  3. It is never too early to have a conversation with your child about Internet safety, keeping personal information private, and cyberbullying. Emphasizing these key topics early will make it easier to have an ongoing dialogue about them.
  4. There is an important difference between passive screentime and uses of technology that demand engagement. This is one of the reasons why smartphones and tablets CAN be a better option that television for some kids. Find apps that are engaging, but also educational. There is a big difference between apps that encourage passive gameplay and those that force the game player to think.
  5. Set guidelines and expectations early and stick to them. Want your child to only have an hour of screentime each day? Set that rule and an enforcement system from the beginning. Don’t wait until technology use becomes a problem to develop a policy and a strategy.
  6. Create a separate wifi network for your kids. This has several advantages. You can set content restrictions and a downtime schedule for the kids, you can view a web history for that network, you can even change the wifi password and hold it ransom for a cleaned-up room or completed homework!
  7. Don’t forget about security for your desktop computer. Make sure you have anti-virus software installed and content filtering as well.
  8. Don’t assume that if your child’s school is providing a device that they are managing or monitoring your child’s use of the device when outside the school building. Ask your school administration if they are doing anything to manage the technology outside the school walls and find out how to configure your home wireless router to add another layer of protection.
  9. Find fun uses of technology that you can do with your kids (see Pokemon Go). If you can connect in a fun way around technology, it is going to make it easier to have those tough conversations.
  10. Stumped on how to do something on your own computer? Ask your kids! They probably already know!

 

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