How to Limit Kids Tech Usage

How to Limit Kids Tech Usage

The rapid digitalization of modern society affects people differently. For parents in particular, this age has added an extra hurdle; they now must endeavor to guide their children through both the real world and the virtual world.

Ensuring that children develop healthy habits of using technology is paramount. Below are a few simple techniques to ensure your children use technology appropriately.

How to Limit Your Children’s Use of Technology

1. Set the Tone

It is critical to understand that, similar to children, adults may become fixated on various forms of technology as well.  Whether binge-watching Netflix, working late on laptops, or obsessively checking emails or texts, children are not only learning from and imitating what parents do, but they also now have to compete for their parent’s attention.

Meaningful presence can begin to disappear. This may be a sign that you need to set stricter boundaries around business, self-entertainment, and family time.  Ask yourself, “do I need to take this call now or can it wait until finish this game?”

2. A Balanced Equation

Technology is seemingly omnipresent, and we know it is not going anywhere. This is largely a positive trend, and children who are fluent in the language of technology will have an advantage going forward. But parents typically worry about children’s accessibility to inappropriate content. Similar to diet, academics, and athletics, technology requires a delicate balance.

Break the mold.

For each family, technology use and its limitations will be unique, and that’s ok. Try out different options, talk to friends and family to see what ground rules are working in their households, and test it out in your household until you find something that is the right fit for your family.

Look out for warning signs of unhealthy tech use, such as:

  • An uptick in tantrum cycles, when screen time is limited or taken away.

  • An inability to entertain oneself creatively, when screens are not accessible.

  • An interference between screen time and everyday routines, including meals, bedtime, school work, and daily communication.

3. Family Brainstorm

Similar to chore lists and other household rules (i.e. whose day it is to wash the dishes or fold the laundry), discuss technology rules openly, so everyone feels included and is on-board. Setting the technology rules as a family will help children to better self-regulate.

When children are acutely aware of the specific limits, and have had a hand in creating them, they are less likely to resist the rule. Keep in mind the need to treat different things differently. For example, what works for a 15-year-old will likely be inappropriate for a 7-year-old.

Be prepared to re-visit this topic (again and again and again). As parents, you know that children quickly outgrow clothes, spaces, and even complicated machines. As they get older, children will increase both the underlying use and the sophistication of their technology.

Don’t be too rigid in your boundaries. Revisiting rules (though tedious) is a necessity. Understand that even experts have difficulty predicting what the digital world will look like – a true testament to its unpredictable nature.

Authored by: Jennifer Jamgochian, LMSW