Mommy has just one more email to send off. One more household chore to finish. Or just wants 5 minutes of peace and quiet.
I’m going to stand up, raise my hand, and acknowledge right here and now that I have used technology as a babysitter. And to all of you who cannot possibly fathom doing this to your children, well I have to ask: Do you have only one child? Do you have a nanny? Or do you just never sleep?
All sarcasm aside though, this has been A YEAR. A crazy, over the top kind of year. And when I feel more and more worn out I turn to the technology babysitter more and more.
You know what? I don’t think using 22 minutes of PJ Masks while you check things off of your to-do list is really a bad thing. I call it being resourceful. But I noticed a trend lately around our house. Kids were picking up electronics and using them whenever, for however long they wanted, without asking first. All it took was a little slack, and then a little more, and a little more. Before I realized it, I was no longer aware of just how often they were using iPads/iPods/TVs. It was a helpless feeling and I wasn’t sure that I knew how to take back control. (Aside from boxing up all electronics and locking them in a closet. Not that I have ever contemplated doing such a thing…)
So when I had the chance to receive an email track from Boys Town about kids and technology I scooped up the opportunity. Up to that point, I thought Boys Town was just for inner-city youth, but now I realize they really work to serve all children by offering hope and improving circumstances. The technology and kids email campaign (as well as the other great parenting topics in the list of campaigns) is appropriate and helpful for all parents, regardless of if their children are living in an at-risk situation.
Over the course of four weeks they send out 4 emails. I appreciated that the emails were short and to the point, with a practical activity or suggestion at the end. I need action items if I am going to make any changes!
Week 1 was about reaffirming in the minds of my children, and my husband and I, that technology is a privilege and not a right. We also took an inventory of all devices that connect to the internet in our house.
Week 2 was setting expectations and limits. This was perhaps the biggest one for me. We talked about an electronic down time – when all devices are down and away. Something that is going to be a good lesson for me just as much as for the kids.
Week 3 addressed online safety. After teaching elementary and middle school this is one area of technology use that we were already fairly strict with. Our personal family rules for kids under 13 include:
- no apps that have messaging capabilities
- iMessaging on iPods is only allowed with people that have been preapproved by Mom and Dad
- apps are only installed with parent permission
- no internet browser
I tell you this so you can now say to your children – see we aren’t the worst parents out there. 😉 But all joking aside, the 11-year-old rather hates these rules. But she has learned to live with them. And the nagging/begging sessions are becoming more spread out.
What will we allow when the oldest hits 13? I’ll be honest, I’m not sure. We will cross that bridge when it comes.
Week 4 was an email I really appreciated. A reminder that technology has opened wonderful doors for our children with some truly amazing benefits. A reminder that the webpages and apps can indeed offer valuable and useful information.
The renewed strength for setting limits and not just giving in bit by bit helped both the kids and myself. The kids are happier when limits are set and when ALL of us set down our devices. They are happier when they don’t feel the need to compete for attention with a screen.
Here’s what I realized after going through all 4 emails. Privileges, limits, and safety with technology isn’t supposed to be overly complicated. But without these guidelines, it can quickly become a force that takes command of our family life.
If you could use help with technology and family life then take 30 seconds to sign up for this 4 part email. You can sign up for the emails here!
Technology is just one of the 10 different parenting email series that they offer. Other topics offered are:
- success in school
- parenting principles
- teen discipline
- toddler tantrums
- today’s teen
- sleep issues
- potty training
- tween discipline
Regardless of if you can use parenting encouragement in one or all of these areas, know you are not alone. Trust me. I just went back and signed up for two more tracks! (Hello sleep issues and parenting tweens.)