Here are a couple of things to consider from an informal survey I have conducted with kids and the parents regarding the children they know in their social circle and at school:
- 95-99% of the kids starting at age 12 have cell phones.
- 95-99% of kids age 4 – 7 are playing on devices like iPads.
That’s a lot of kids on devices.
How are they doing with their devices? Here are a few stories from the technology front.
- While walking home from school, one kid, Matt, age 12, is so absorbed in his phone that he comes close to getting run over, as an irate motorist shocks him out of his phone absorption to avoid getting hit.
- Another child, an 11 year old, rides on his bicycle talking on the phone. While swerving in and out on the road, he is looking at the screen as he holds his phone in one hand and the the handlebars with the other.
- George, age 14, posts a very scary message on Snapchat that could have easily had the police knocking on his door. He was stunned that his message caused people to get upset.
- A five year old had an hour-long melt-down, throwing everything around his room after his parents told him he needed to get off of the iPad and come to dinner.
- Another 7 year old also melts down when his parents make a half-hearted attempt to have quiet time to get the child to read for a half hour. “I hate reading; it’s stupid and boring,” he screamed as he slammed the door of his room refusing to read.
I’m sure there are all kinds of guidelines out there on children and their device use, and I’m sure that most of you know the importance of having something like the norton secure vpn to help when it comes to online security, but here are a few of mine to help you through these perilous waters:
1. Above all, remember, DEVICES ARE A PRIVILEGE.
Just like driving a car at 16 or 17, it is a privilege to be handed the keys, not a right. Modern kids think that access to iPads, cellphones, etc. are a right. You need to straighten them out about this concept. Explain to them that the only thing you are required to provide is clothing, food and shelter. There are no rights when it comes to devices.
2. As the saying goes, “The Lord giveth and Lord taketh,” so it goes with their devices – only this time it’s you as parents deciding whether device use is being misused.
3. Lay out the rules very clearly. If the rules are not followed and the privilege is being abused, then it’s a great learning experience to see what happens. Such a learning experience also sets the groundwork for the future when the kid wants the privilege of driving.
4. If they have temporarily lost the privilege of their devices, don’t fall for impassioned manipulations such as they,”must have them for school work!!!!!” Write the school a note to let them know your child is temporarily not allowed to have access to any devices. The school will more than appreciate that you are taking a stand.
5. Finally, stay strong. Be clear. Don’t weaken. From where I sit, they are all becoming little screen junkies anyway, so you need to really set your boundaries and be vigilant.
Devices are a a privilege.
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