A few weeks ago I made the mistake of allowing my toddler to see an Elmo app on our tablet. Big. Fat. Mistake. Now, whenever my son sees our tablet he starts saying “Ipad” or “Elmo.” This usually results in me having to take the technology away from him as he cries and reaches for it. Yet, moments later, he is fine and has moved onto another activity. I don’t mind if my son looks at our ipad for a little bit. However, I certainly don’t want him to become screen obsessed. Here are a few tips on how to prevent your kids from becoming obsessed with technology.
Refrain from Using Technology In Every Public Setting
I’m a parent of two. I understand that parents need a break. Sometimes, this may mean the kids watch television or use a smartphone so parents can make dinner. However, when we go to the grocery store, to the park or out to dinner, the technology is off-limits. I think it’s important to sometimes leave the phone in your pocket or purse. If your kids are constantly entertained with a screen, it’s eventually going to be hard to get them to behave without technology.
Technology has a Time and a Place
There have been times when I have used my husband’s smartphone to distract my son. Once he was in the emergency room and I was trying to keep him calm so the doctor could examine him. On long car rides, we might let my daughter watch a movie. We even use study apps to help our daughter learn sight words and word families. Technology definitely can be helpful (at least, I think so). After all, there is a time and a place for everything.
Don’t Give In
My son has a hard time running errands. Allowing him to play with my phone or other device might make it easier. However, I resist the urge. Instead I might give him a snack or bring him a toy car to play with while we shop. He might get fussy towards the end of the trip. However, toddlers cry and get bored easily. Thus, I keep my errands short and keep the technology at home. It’s also important to remember that older children don’t need smartphones….even if all their friends have one. Don’t give into the age-old “But everyone else has one” argument.
Have a Limit
When you do let your kids have technology, have a limit. You might even want to set a timer. When my daughter finishes her homework, I usually let her watch a few shows or play some games. I usually limit it to an hour. Then, 15 minutes before her time is up, I let her know that “this is the last show, okay?”
Teach Kids to Enjoy “Screen-Free” Time
Overall, I think the easiest way to prevent your kids from becoming obsessed with technology is to teach them to enjoy “screen-free” time. When kids are young, give them plenty of unstructured playtime so that they develop an imagination. Read, do crafts, play board games and, most importantly, talk to them. During dinner or after school, set aside some time to talk with your child. This way they will have plenty of interests outside of technology.
My kids enjoy watching shows and playing games on our tablet…..so do I. However, we are not obsessed; and, that’s the way I’m planning to keep it.
More from Melissa:
How to Instill a Love for Reading in Your Child
I Gave My Daughter a Technology Time-out
7 Simple Activities for Sick Toddlers