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​Kids & TechnologyIssue1234

Kids & Technology

It used to be that ​​kids ​consumed electronic media from two main sources: radio and ​television. And while kids still listen to the radio and watch TV, they are much more likely to be plugged in to a wide variety of technological platforms, including DVRs, game consoles, computers and mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads. In fact, kids today often use multiple screens at the same time! It’s not uncommon, for instance, for a tween or teen to be watching a program on television while discussing it with others via social media on his or her phone or tablet.

The upshot of all of this is that technology and media are penetrating much deeper into and having a much greater impact on our children’s lives. They (and let’s face it, many of us) often spend most of the day with their eyes glued to a screen of some kind. And while there certainly are benefits to living an interconnected, plugged-in life, there are huge drawbacks, too. Face-to-face communication skills can suffer. Schoolwork and grades can drop off. And then there’s the dangers posed by cyberbullying and other predatory activities that are made easier by today’s technology.

So what is a parent to do about all this? You can’t ban all interactive technology from your home; besides being impractical, it would deprive your kids from using the electronic educational tools so many schools are using these days. And even with a ban, adolescent children probably would find other ways to get online and access media. A better option is to create a balance between the virtual world and the real world your kids live in. The best way to do that is to be acutely aware of what your kids are doing with technology and media and to develop media-use policies in your home that they will agree to and follow.

Over the next few weeks, you’ll receive three more emails that will provide additional insight on this subject and advice for how to help your teens and tween get the most out of the new technology while protecting them from its dangers. Each email will include a teaching activity and a social skill to teach your children.

The success of those activities and skills, and your media-use policies, rests on one simple rule: ​Under your roof, technology is a privilege, not a right. You are the authority in your household, and you can grant or deny access to technology and all electronic devices as you see fit.

Teaching Activity

Taking Inventory

For this activity, you should inventory all the devices your children have access to that can connect them to the Internet. Whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, gaming console, computer or laptop, make sure you know what your kids are using to enter the virtual world. Once you’ve compiled your list, you have an arsenal of privileges you can use when giving positive and negative consequences to your kids in response to their behavior. Take time, too, to inspect the apps your kids have on their phones and tablets. In our next email, we’ll talk about safety, including certain apps that can be downright dangerous. You need to know what your kids are using in order to keep them safe.

Social Skills

Accepting “No” for an Answer

Your children must understand that you are the authority in your home. So, for instance, when they ask to stay up another half hour to chat with friends on their phones on a school night, and you say “No,” they need to be able to accept your answer. Accepting “No” for an Answer is a social skill your kids will use often, in many different settings (home, school, work), so it is important that you teach it and they learn it. Here are the steps you can practice with your kids:

  • Look at the person. This shows you are paying attention.
  • Say, “Okay.” This lets the other person know you understand.
  • Stay calm. This allows you to hear what the other person is saying.

These steps might seem simple or obvious. But in practice, using the skill of Accepting “No” for an Answer is a lot harder than it seems. Practicing this skill often with your kids will eventually help them master it and make it second nature for them.

Coming up in Issue 2

Setting Limits for Kids Online


Setting Expectations


Managing Time

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