As you make the transition from the leisurely pace of summer to the stressful balancing act of earlier bedtimes, new homework routines, and after-school activities, try to factor in how your kids’ use of technology will change with it. Over the last few months, you may have been more lax about where, when, and how much time they spent playing apps on your iPad or posting photos on Instagram. But with schoolwork, sports, clubs, and sleep taking greater priority over their time, you may need to help your kids find a way to balance all of that with leisure tech time.
Here are 4 things to consider as you make the shift, to help your kids develop good digital habits:
1. Remember: not all tech time is equal.
Your kids may need to text you on their way home from school, research something for homework or work on a group project with Google docs. These are activities make technology a utility. Consider how much time they are using it out of necessity before deciding where tech time for fun fits in. A blanket : 2 hours of screen time per day rule may be unreasonable (or unfair).
2. Decide how much fun tech time is ok.
You may not have had to say this over the summer, but establish rules and limits about when and where they can use tech for fun, such as after homework is done, only on weekends, etc. Since many kids need screen time for schoolwork, it might be challenging to know how much additional screen time your kids can have for the Xbox or iPad for fun. Not sure where to start? Here’s a great guide from CMCH on how to think about and set time limits. http://cmch.tv/time-limits/
3. Being a good digital citizen is important year-round.
Regardless of the reason or amount of time they’ll be using technology this school year, the rules and expectations you had in place over the summer about using it safely and responsibly still apply. And remind them of the basics of being safe, kind, and smart about what they’re doing. You’ll find lots of information on this within this blog, but some to consider during back to school are:
- Getting into Digital shape http://internetsafety.trendmicro.com/make-a-new-school-year-resolution-get-into-digital-shape
- Safe, Responsible Social Networking: http://internetsafety.trendmicro.com/this-school-year-help-kids-with-the-safe-responsible-use-of-social-networks
4. Encourage good physical habits with tech.
Lots of screen time and hunching over a laptop or mobile device can take its toll on anyone over time. Help your kids develop good physical habits to protect their eyes, posture, hands, and overall physical well-being by taking breaks, walking around, stretching etc. And if they have a very busy day, there may be no time to use technology for fun that day. For your older kids who have phones, charge them outside their bedroom at night. Don’t let extra tech time take away the rest and sleep they need to be successful and healthy.
Here are some great guides to bookmark and review:
- For the eyes, from the Vision Council: https://www.thevisioncouncil.org/content/digital-eye-strain/kids
- For posture, from occupational therapist Carol Leynse Harpold: http://otswithapps.com/2012/05/21/ergonomics-and-ipad-use-1/
These tips are not just for kids and are not limited to the school year, so use them yourself and be a good role model for your kids.