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Helping Kids Addicted to Technology

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NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are solely those of the author and are not necessarily the views of TechAddiction and/or Dr. Conrad.

Our children are taught to use computers at a very early age. This has been deemed a good thing because the world as we know it now would cease to operate on many levels if it was taken away. But how much technology is too much for our children?

My two children are seven years apart; the oldest had access to computers starting in the sixth grade, which was about the time we invested in one for home. They had just started giving computer classes and wanted the kids to produce some of their essays for school via computer. Not everyone had computers at home so those students were allowed access to computers in school in labs. My daughter took to it immediately, almost instinctively. I worked with computers in my job so I was up to speed, thankfully! My husband on the other hand had not had much experience but decided to give it a go.  My daughter primarily used the computer for school work. On the other hand there was dad, who became obsessed with learning everything there was to know about this new technology. He, being an electrician, was of course interested in the inner workings as well.

My son was five years old and wanted to be around dad and watch everything he did. Dad of course loved the time he spent with our son and wanted to have something to share. My husband started trying to find age appropriate games and sat with my son and taught him to play. They were educational games which was great by me. A year or so later he didn’t need dad to help him pop in a game or go to a website to play, he knew exactly how to get to what he wanted. Our computer was centrally located in our den so there were no worries, always someone around to see what he was doing. Then dad decided to bring home another computer because the one we had was a little out of date. He then gave the first one to my son, for his room. It seemed innocent enough at the time and he was learning so much.

We were of the mind that computer skills would be great for him to have, which has proven to be true. He created websites on his own in grade school, set it up where he could attach to his friends computers to help them with technology problems, even made a long life friend with someone from another country! But then it became increasingly hard to get him to go outside, play with friends, or just be with the family. We had to come up with a plan because we could see where this was going and had to make some changes. I wanted to share some of these changes with you so that you can help your children out of this trap or prevent it from starting.

1. Set a time limit. There needs to be clear boundaries set on the amount of time spent a day on the computer, for us this was an hour during the weekdays, more on the weekends but never any more than an hour at a time.

2. Equal time for playing outdoors. At least an hour had to be spent outside, riding bikes, skating, and playing with friends. We felt it was very important to get exercise and to socialize.

3. Homework takes priority. All homework had to be done before getting on the computer to play. Naturally if they needed to use the computer for school work that was taken into consideration.

4. Family time takes precedence. Having family time was and is of great importance. When it was dinner time, or any other time that we were having family time this came first, not “when I get done on the computer mom!”

5. Open door policy. Always have your children keep their doors open and interact with them during computer time. Check on the games their playing or what they are looking up. Let them know you are interested and are paying attention. When possible, especially with younger children, sit with them, watch and interact.

Technology has made quite an impact on our society. It has made many things easier, some things harder. Things like getting children to socialize, going outside to play, getting exercise, and spending time with family. We need to be wise parents, not let technology take first place in our children’s day to day lives, or our own. We have to be careful not to get disconnected from what the priorities are. It’s so easy in the hurried world we live in to miss things and let things go that are important.

The time we have to train our little ones and bond with them is limited. The computer, the cell phones, ipods and any other techno gadgets cannot take the place of mom and dad. Our children need one on one time with us, structure, a sense of priorities and responsibility. Technology cannot take the place of family. In my opinion, this is a huge problem in our society today; the easier technology makes things the more it takes away of what we had in years gone by.

When I was growing up we had no technology outside of one television with three channels and one home phone. We played games, we cooked and ate together, we did homework together, we watered our gardens, played on our swing sets, road our bikes, and we used our imaginations. We had a close knit family and a lot of fun. We learned the hands on way. I know we have so much more information at our finger tips than in the past but I have fond memories of that set of encyclopedias dad bought. That’s where we would go for our reports and projects, or the public and school library.

Technology is great, I’m not against it, but in our family and perhaps in yours too, we just needed to make sure we kept our priorities in line and put our children’s well being at the top of the list.

Guest Author Bio

Paul and his wife Julie both spend quite a bit of time coming up with ideas, blogging, and researching all things related to childcare.

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