The topic of how to help our kids use technology in a beneficial and balanced way is huge for parents, and there's no one easy answer. There are lots of people discussing it, however, which is positive. That ongoing conversation has included some recent online posts that I've found helpful and I wanted to share them in the hopes that you find them useful, too.
Parents Guide to Teenagers and Sleep by Child Mind Institute
Technology impacts so many aspects of our kids' lives, including their sleep. This post explains how and offers additional insight into what parents can do to make sure their kids are getting sufficient rest.
"It’s not just that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and YouTube are distractions that keep kids up later, it’s the actual light coming off the electronic devices they’re exposed to, especially late at night. Electronics emit a glow called blue light that has a particular frequency. When it hits receptors in the eye, those receptors send a signal to the brain that suppresses the production of melatonin and keeps kids from feeling tired. And adolescents are low on melatonin and start producing it later to begin with."
How to get kids to look away from their screens and take pleasure in books by Nora Krug in On Parenting
I was an English major and I'll always love books, so of course I was taken with this article, which includes some great book suggestions at the end. Here's a suggestion from the article that I haven't considered:
"Have a “reading” meal: Pick a meal (or two) where everyone in the family is allowed to bring a book to the table and read to themselves as they eat, MacPherson suggests. It may make for a very quiet meal or a boisterous discussion session. Either way, it makes a special event out of reading."
5 ways parents can help kids balance social media with the real world by Adrienne Wichard-Edds in the Washington Post On Parenting
I liked these tips from Ana Homayoun and while this one may not be popular, I think it makes sense and the reasoning she gives in the article to support her stance seems solid to me:
“Check your kid’s phone. Particularly in middle school but also in high school, kids should know that parents can ask for their phones at any point and be allowed full access,” Homayoun says. While some parents take a more hands-off approach because, they say, they want to respect their kids’ privacy, it’s important to make the distinction between privacy and safety. “Twenty-four-hour access doesn’t mean 24-hour snooping,” she says. “It means that a parent is still responsible for monitoring what a minor does online."
17 Apps and Websites Kids Are Heading to After Facebook by Christine Elgersma on Common Sense Media
Keeping up with apps is always a challenge, and this list offers a good overview. With the ones you're not familiar with, it's always a good idea to start by asking your kids "Hey, are you familiar with this one? What are your thoughts on it?"
"GroupMe is an app that doesn't charge fees or have limits for direct and group messages. Users also can send photos, videos, and calendar links.
What parents need to know: It's for older teens. The embedded GIFs and emojis have some adult themes, such as drinking and sex. Teens are always connected. Without fees or limits, teens can share and text to their heart's content, which may mean they rarely put the phone down."
Here's to helping our kids (and ourselves) find the best ways to keep technology in check and have it be a force for good in our lives.