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Digital Respons-Ability

How to Make Tech Time Deliberate

It seems to me that figuring out tech time for kids is the biggest struggle parents have today. How much is too much?

Imagine for a minute you’re in the middle of your busiest day. It’s a dentist appointment followed by school pick up and soccer practice. You’ve barely had time to eat lunch (if you did), let alone had time to really interact with your toddler. Or maybe you’re working from home and your sitter bailed – and those meetings are waiting for nobody. Oh man did that tablet or phone save your sanity today! Right?

Picture of extended family

Use tech time as a tool

Recently the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) dropped its no-screens-for-the-first-two-years rule which caught my interest. Not only did it relieve feelings of guilt in this working mom, but it also feels like maybe there are some things our kids can do on devices at a younger age that aren’t damaging. I did a little research and here is my conclusion: Tech time with kids is great when done deliberately.

For our home, deliberate tech time looks like this – screen time limits on Kindle profiles, tv time limited by casting the shows from my phone to the television. They still get to choose what to play and watch, but I know what they’re playing and watching and get to ask them questions about it later. This is key: use the internet to connect with your child. Explore with them and/or ask questions about what they are experiencing. There are plenty of interactive and exploratory things your child experiences during tech time, and plenty of mindless things that perhaps they need to release stress. And you can be part of all of it.

Tech time as kids get older

My oldest just turned 12. All of his friends are online and right now it’s hard to interact with them when they don’t see each other at school. So we bought him an iPod. We sat down and talked with him as we set it up with strict (and wonderful!) parental controls, and it was fun to learn more about his interests and who he wanted in his contacts list

Because we take time to establish purpose behind using their tech things are flowing well. We have found ourselves being intentional on our devices, which has led to more familial bonding. It’s been fun to realize together that we can choose to not be on tech, but that we are also able choose to use it too.

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